Aichi Prefecture in Japan has had the country's highest rate of traffic deaths for 13 years in a row. Just last year alone there were 44,3691 accidents that resulted in deaths or injury and in the same year there were 50,101 arrests for smartphone use while driving.
It's a scary trend and government officials and Japanese companies are looking for ways to convince drivers in Aichi Prefecture to keep their hands off their smartphones and their eyes on the road.
As part of a safe driving program to help reduce the amount of traffic accidents, Toyota, a car company, Komeda Co., a coffee company, and KDDI Corporation, a communications company, have joined forces to create an app that they hope will incentivize drivers to keep their smartphones out of hand called Driving Barista.
The app only works if you're driving in Aichi Prefecture. Using the phone's gyro sensor and GPS, the app can tell if the phone has been lying flat or tilted up by the user and how many miles the driver has gone without picking up the phone. Once a driver racks up 100 km without picking up their phone, they receive a coupon for a free cup of coffee at a Komeda Coffee Shop.
To use it, the driver opens and starts the app before starting to drive and then places their phone face down. Each time the driver uses the app, the kilometers driven with the phone facing down are added up and coupons are awarded after the first 100 km and then after every 200 km. If you pick up your phone while driving, it resets and you start back at 0 km.
The companies will also be promoting free traffic safety programs in the prefecture as part of the government's 2016 Autumn Traffic Safety Campaign for the next two weeks. According to a recent survey, 60 percent of the prefecture's drivers say they use their phones while driving. The companies hope that the app will make drivers more aware of how distracted they are when using their smartphones and help them to form the better habit of leaving the smartphone facing down while driving.
The program and app launch today and it's available for both iOS and Android devices.