Samsung’s plan to keep you from crashing your car: Make it a game

Not so effective with drivers.
Not so effective with drivers.
Image: Reuters/Fred Prouser
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For many drivers, a cell phone is a car crash waiting to happen. Samsung thinks it can change that.

Texting while driving is becoming a big barrier to road safety. In the US, text messaging while behind the wheel makes a crash up to 23 times more likely, and yet over 77% of young American adults believe they’re capable of doing so “safely.” That frightening gap means people aren’t merely unaware of the danger; they’re in denial.

Samsung, however, has a mobile phone app attempting to fix the problem.

The mobile phone giant just launched an Android app called Eyes on the Road, a game that prevents users from using their phones in potentially harmful ways (for instance, texting) while driving. When active, the app determines the speed at which a user is traveling in order to gauge whether that user is in a moving vehicle or not. At and above roughly 20 km per hour or 12 miles per hour, all phone call, text, social media and other notifications are hidden. Only when the user has reached his or her destination (detected when a user’s phone has been idle for 10 minutes) are notifications revealed. The user can also manually deactivate the app.

In a nod to the gamification era, Samsung sprinkles the app with competition and reward. Users gain points by accumulating miles driven with the app in active mode; those points can be used towards insurance premium vouchers and gas pump discounts or shared with friends. Here’s Samsung’s promotional video:

The company is test-launching the app in Singapore, presumably because of its surging problem with driver cell phone use, before introducing it elsewhere.