Chevrolet is spearheading a mobile effort to encourage drivers both young and ol, to put down their smartphones when behind the wheel of an automobile. Ironically (at first glance) the automaker is doing this through a mobile app, Call Me Out, available for Android devices. It's a unique app, however, in that it encourages drivers to put their phone down.
That way it works is the app takes recorded messages by family and friends—or whoever—and plays them back to drivers when they pick up their phone. Let's say Erica goes out for a drive. Erica is easily distracted by her phone, whether it's reading text messages or cycling through Spotify playlists. Through the Call Me Out app, her sister Paige can record a message saying, "Erica, put down the phone, the text can wait!" The app taps into a phone's accelerometer and GPS to detect when it's physically picked up while traveling at speeds above 5 miles per hour, so when Erica (the distracted driver) picks it up while driving, it play the personalized message from Paige.
"As the father of two daughters, I am keenly aware of all the perils that my children face out in the world on a daily basis, and that is why it is so important for GM and Chevrolet to offer technologies that help all of us become safer drivers," said Alan Batey, president of GM North America and head of Global Chevrolet. "With Call Me Out we are extending our commitment beyond the technologies integrated into GM and Chevy vehicles and are making the app available for Android phone users who drive other vehicle makes and models in an effort to help people change their driving behavior and make our roads safer."
It's obviously a bit gimmicky, but kudos to Chevrolet (and GM) for thinking outside the box. Distracted driving is a real problem. While it may seem like common sense to put down the phone when behind the wheel, the temptation to pick it up can loom large when there's an incoming text.
Chevrolet cites a recent Research Now survey as partial motivation for Call Me Out. In the survey, 84 percent of respondents acknowledged that distracted driving is dangerous, yet 90 percent admitted to doing it anyway.
"Chevy’s Call Me Out app gives drivers another great tool to reinforce good driving behaviors—and as a mom of a teenage daughter, I personally know how important it is to model good driving behaviors and encourage others to do the same," said Tricia Morrow, Chevy safety engineer.
There's also a bit of "gamification" going on with Call Me Out, by way of a point system with a scoreboard and rankings. The less a phone is handled while driving, the higher the score on the leaderboard, Chevrolet says.
The app is available now, though only for Android. It's not clear if Chevrolet will port it over to iOS, or let iPhone users drive amok.