April is observed as Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Safety Council, and despite some area schools raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving among their students and parents, Arkansas is one of the top 10 states for overall bad driving habits, according to data compiled and recently released by Life360.
“We did a survey of our users, and what we found out is that what most people want from this phone app is peace of mind for families,” said Alex Haro, chief technology officer of the San Francisco-based company that developed the Life360 free application. “One of the things we discovered they’re most concerned about is distracted driving.”
For a parent, there can sometimes be nothing more frightening than the first teen driver in the family.
“Parents, in general, tend to trust their own kid, so it isn’t a trust issue, but that doesn’t mean they trust their kids’ friends on the road,” said Haro.
Analysis of data collected from the phone app was gathered between Feb. 1 and March 15, and was collected from those families that used the Driver Protect feature to reflect driver habits not passenger habits. An estimated 67 percent of Americans feel “at risk” because of others’ use of technology on the road, but only 25 percent feel their own distractions put themselves or others at risk.
“From a societal point of view, (distracted driving) was a very big problem to solve,” said Haro. “What we hope to accomplish with this app is just provide peace of mind.”
With the data collected, Life360 ranked Arkansas sixth worst in the nation for cellphone usage while driving, just below Kentucky and above Georgia. In fact, cellphone usage while driving is most prevalent throughout the Gulf South and Southeastern United States.
Most recently, Joey McCutchen of McCutchen and Sexton law firm visited area schools to raise awareness among elementary school students. In most scenarios, these students would be the passengers in the vehicles, so it was in their interest to have older siblings, parents and neighbors sign distracted driving pledges McCutchen had sent home with them.
“You can set up locations across town with this app that will send you a notification when your teen driver reaches a specific destination,” said Haro. “We’re using all of the sensors on your (teen driver’s) phone to monitor for rapid acceleration, hard braking, top and average speed and phone use.”
Haro added that the safe driver review of the phone app also monitors for safe driving habits, so the news is not all bad. And with the application being free to download, users can access 90 percent of the application’s features.
“Parents are loving it,” said Haro. “The nice thing about Life360 is that it enables parents and children to have that conversation about what is distracted driving.”