The local creator of a safe-driving phone application suggests a 2020 New Year’s resolution for Brazos Valley drivers that she believes can be made into a fun challenge: cellphone-free driving.
It’s been three years since “Safe 2 Save” launched, created by College Station resident Marci Corry. As reported by The Eagle in 2016, the app was downloaded almost 5,000 times after just one month in operation. Safe 2 Save operates on a points-based system, offering the downloader points for every minute spent driving while not interacting with his or her cellphone. These points can be redeemed as real savings at local and chain businesses such as Blue Baker, Chick-fil-A or Mad Taco.
“I think that’s what makes this app really unique,” Corry said. “We have very local rewards, and you can challenge other people that you know to compete with you.”
Participants can challenge their friends to see who can collect the most safe driving points in a set period of time, and Safe 2 Save also has hosted specified competitions with additional prizes. Since its inception, the College Station-based service has spread across much of Texas, including Austin, San Antonio, Waco, Beaumont and Houston. The app is soon to reach the Dallas area, too, Corry said. This week alone, even with many Texas A&M students out of town for the holiday, the app recorded 36,000 users in Brazos County. Corry pointed out that for the duration of 2019, the program has recorded 315 million minutes of phone-free driving. Corry believes the app has had a measurable impact on reducing distracted driving, particularly in young people, she said.
The app has become popular with Texas A&M students. Early last year, 6,000 Aggie students participated in a safe-driving challenge over a two-month period in the app.
“It was so amazing to see how people come together and work so hard for this,” Corry said, noting that she is pleased to see the dedication in participation from students. “... They can make it socially unacceptable to use your phone by driving.”
According to the Texas Department of Transportation website, more than 95,000 crashes were caused throughout the state in 2018 due to distracted driving, resulting in just fewer than 400 deaths.
The AAA driver safety guide “Keys2Drive” at teendriving.aaa.com states that more than half of teenage drivers reported using their phone while driving, according to AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety. This, the site notes, is against the law in Texas, as any driver under the age of 18 is prohibited from using a cellphone while driving. Young drivers potentially could owe fines, lose their driver’s licenses and face increased insurance rates on their vehicles if caught with a phone in hand.
Corry said that this spring, the Texas Department of Transportation will be partnering with Safe 2 Save and offer money to 11 area high schools to be used for each school’s Project Celebration, a post-senior prom safe lock-in party. The department will allot money to the schools whose students can log the most safe driving hours on Safe 2 Save. Corry hopes that both older drivers and younger drivers can come together and use the app, setting an example for children who will become drivers in the future. But participants don’t have to wait for an event such as those sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation to start collecting points.
“We have heard of thousands of people making this part of their New Year’s resolution,” Corry said. “Screen addiction is a huge issue ... and it is a habit that people want to break.”
To download Safe 2 Save, go to the Apple app store or Google Play app store, or learn more at safe2save.org.