The Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI’s) Teens in the Driver Seat® (TDS) program was recently awarded the Platinum Award for Best New Mobile App by BestMobileAppAwards.com for their You in the Driver Seat (YDS) smartphone app. The app is aimed at encouraging safe driving behaviors in young drivers aged 16 to 25 and was selected for the award based on six factors: its usefulness; quality; uniqueness; user interface; design; and the number of votes from site visitors.
The YDS app rewards youth for safe driving (defined as driving without distractions — e.g., using their phones for texting, calls, social media, etc. — or excessive speeding). Drivers earn points for safely driven miles, redeemable for gift cards to popular venues like Amazon, Starbucks and Chick-fil-A. Drivers also earn safe driving badges and qualify for random reward drawings based on safe driving point benchmarks.
“This award means so much and is the result of many hard-working hours from so many different individuals at TTI,” TTI Senior Research Engineer Russell Henk exclaims. Henk oversaw the development and deployment of the YDS app. “I’d like to thank the entire YTS team for their valuable work and partnership over these past few years. I’d also like to recognize Micah Montoya and Mike Vickich for developing and maintaining the YDS app. Without their talents, none of this would have been possible.”
The YDS app had previously been through two iterations of development in the private sector before TTI began redeveloping the application in-house. According to Henk, the decision to develop the software at TTI has proven fruitful to the development and success of the app.
“Not having complete control of the application code and data made it very difficult to analyze our product, and it was nearly impossible to derive any meaningful feedback from our user base when we were outsourcing the app,” notes Henk. “Once the app was redeveloped at TTI, we had immediate access to our data and were able to update the app in a more timely and cost-effective manner to meet our audiences’ needs. This has enabled us to advance the application much more effectively.” An analysis of data from the app (conducted by Christine Yager – another core member of the app team) indicates a 20 percent, statistically significant reduction in distracted driving amongst those young drivers who consistently use the app, and the team continues to see consistent growth in those downloading and using the app.
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