How TextNinja’s Mobile App Reinforces Safe Driving Behavior
While automobiles have been part of the American landscape for a century, mobile phones only started becoming commonplace about 15 years ago. Today, the pairing of the two products forms a dangerous combination leading to distracted driving, and in far too many cases, car accidents. TextNinja, a gamification startup is trying to overcome the problems caused by the collision of these technologies with a new technological solution: a mobile app that helps keeps drivers’ focus where it belongs – the road.
Chicago-based TextNinja has developed an app and Bluetooth-enabled device that recognizes when the user is in his or her car, and silences text notifications while the car is being driven. The app can do that because the device connects to a car’s onboard diagnostics computer, Chicago Inno explains. The app automatically responds to incoming texts with a customized message; when the drive has ended, the user is notified of all missed messages. That should keep drivers from glancing at their phones when they should be paying attention to other cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
“The more I looked, the more I found that no one had a very good answer to the call of distracted driving,” TextNinja founder and CEO Jim Ramirez told Chicago Inno. “This is one of those problems that’s big enough and currently doesn’t have any good solutions.”
Simply silencing the phone and postponing messages might be enough to keep older drivers from glancing at their phones. But Ramirez tells Chicago Inno that teenagers and younger drivers, who have grown up surrounded by mobile technology, would have a harder time changing their cell phone behaviors. To overcome those habits, Ramirez gamified his app to reinforce safe driving habit by rewarding safe driving behavior. Drivers receive points for miles driven without texting. In the future, those points could be applied to rewards such as insurance rebates, coupons, and gift cards.
Ramirez says the app could also send reports to parents of teenage drivers. With that reporting capability, TextNinja is in a position to also look for partnerships with car insurance companies, who might be eager to have more information about the driving behaviors of their insureds. For now, TextNinja is hoping that it can become a platform for changing the dangerous habit of looking at the mobile phone while driving.
Image credit: flickr