Boston's safe driving app seeing quick results

BOSTON — There's an app that's turning driving into a game that pays and what Bostonians learn when they get behind the wheel, may be the biggest payoff.

"Well, I think everybody thinks that they're a great driver."

Kris Carter thinks he's a pretty good driver.

"I'm a fairly cautious driver," he said. "Well, I think everybody thinks that they're a great driver."

Then came the app, "Boston's Safest Driver" and, suddenly, Carter realized he might not be.

"There were stretches of road where I was going faster than I should have been," he explained.

That's the idea behind Cambridge Mobile Telematics’ app, which tracks your driving habits.

"When people look at the app and the data, they don't realize how much room for improvement there is," CMT's Hari Balakrishnan said.

He says the app looks at hard-braking, phone use while driving, speeding and scores the driver.

"Bad habits sometimes become second nature for us," Balakrishnan said. "The app really forces them to think about what they're doing."

Carter loved the idea. He's co-chair of the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics.

He says last year, 23 people died in traffic crashes on Boston streets. The mayor wants that number to be zero.

With that goal, Carter and Balakrishnan decided to launch a contest, using the app, to see if they could change the way Boston drives.

It's working.

"Within about 30 days, people improve their driving. They reduce their distracted driving on average by about 35-percent," Balakrishnan said.

Now, everyone can get in on the game. Until December, drivers who download the app can compete to be the safest.

"There's a score that shows up at the end of each trip between zero and 100 and there's prizes tied to this competition," Carter said.

The competition is driving home an important lesson.

"Safe drivers are made, not born," Balakrishnan said.

This public-private partnership is the first of its kind in the world.

The money is being awarded by Arbella Insurance and it's significant -- up to $2,000 for the top prize.

The City of Boston says the data collected is completely anonymous.

Right now, the app is only scheduled to be online until December, but the city is so impressed by how it can effect change, some are hoping to figure out a way to have the project continue.

You can download Boston's Safest Driver here.