Last Wednesday I wrote a lead-in to today's post. If you missed that story, check it out here before continuing below.
The SAFE 2 SAVE app first appeared on my radar last December. I immediately wanted to learn more, so I sought out the creator - Marci Corry - on Facebook and sent her a message. Because of the holidays and our busy schedules we played message and text tag for more than a month, but a couple of weeks ago I finally had an opportunity to talk with her over the phone.
While having lunch with a friend, Marci looked around and realized that everyone in the restaurant was using their phone in one way or another. You've probably noticed this too - perhaps you find it frustrating, or perhaps you've accepted this circumstance as the new normal in our society. Whatever the case, the fact of the matter is that our phones distract us. And while phone-related distractions might be annoying in a restaurant, when we climb behind the wheel of a car they become tremendously dangerous.
Marci began researching distracted driving, and the more she learned about the dangers, the more she felt called to take action. She investigated existing safe driving apps, and while she found a couple of options, nothing on the market looked like what she envisioned for SAFE 2 SAVE. She connected with a TAMU student app designer who turned her vision - an app that offered locally-based rewards for making smart choices and driving safely - into a reality.
So how does it work? First, download the FREE app and follow the prompts to set up and adjust the settings on your phone. This includes adding a picture to the app's home screen so that if you try to exit the app while your vehicle is moving, the picture will pop up along with the words, "Is it really worth it?" I used a picture of Will and Hallie.
Second, start using the app! While in SAFE 2 SAVE mode (the app is open), the app tracks how far you travel and rewards you with points. These points can then be exchanged for discounts and even freebies at local restaurants, coffee shops, stores, entertainment venues, and fitness facilities.
After downloading the app and using it almost daily for three weeks, I have earned more than 1,000 points and already used 250 of them for a free frozen yogurt at Spoons. And speaking of using the app "almost daily"... The first week I had trouble remembering to open the app when I got in my car. Thankfully, Marci came up with a solution and recently rolled out small SAFE 2 SAVE "reminder" stickers. I attached mine to the center of my steering wheel so that when I sit down in the driver's seat I immediately notice the sticker. After a week, however, both kids - who LOVE making sure my phone stays in SAFE 2 SAVE mode and watching our point total climb - and I started to remember the app without the sticker. The SAFE 2 SAVE stickers can be found at any of the participating businesses.
Thanks in part to local media coverage, sponsorships from the City of College Station and the City of Bryan, and word of mouth, since launching on October 4th SAFE 2 SAVE has gained more than 15,000 users in the Bryan/College Station area. And while reward points were originally redeemable only in the Brazos Valley, throughout the last month SAFE 2 SAVE made its way to both Madisonville and Waco. Midland, Conroe, and Magnolia are up next, followed by Austin and Dallas. Marci plans to continue expanding the app's reach, but slowly and intentionally. The goal is to promote and reward safe driving, but also to support local economies by encouraging app users to redeem their points at small businesses close to home.
And if SAFE 2 SAVE rewards haven't yet made it to your city or town, don't worry! The points can be accrued anywhere in the United States, so you can start earning points in preparation for the day the rewards do arrive.
Last week I shared a story about a texting and driving accident that happened all too close to home. Even though we have all heard these stories - these terrifying, heartbreaking stories - and read the statistics, we keep texting and driving. I see people using their phones behind the wheel every single day, and I bet you do too. But why?!
"For young people, phones and social media are an addiction," explains Marci. "They want to be included and to feel pursued and loved, and they get all of that through their phones." The reason is different, however, for adults. "Adults want to be productive. We feel like we need to respond to texts, voicemails, and Facebook messages as quickly as possible to get them checked off our to-do lists."
Most of the time, "accidents are predictable and preventable", Marci points out. We can predict that distracted drivers will eventually cause accidents on the road. We can prevent these accidents from happening by continuing to increase awareness, calling each other out on unsafe behavior, and advocating for stricter safe driving laws and regulations. Our lives depend on it.
~ SAFE 2 SAVE is available for download in the App Store and on Google Play.
~ If you would like to help Marci bring SAFE 2 SAVE to your city, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will connect you.