Platform: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Let’s face it, teaching a teenager how to drive is not the easiest thing to do. I can remember my parents alternating turns teaching me how to drive, taking me into empty parking lots to practice braking, parking, and controlled acceleration. I remember noticing that both of my parents drive differently and I would learn one thing from my mom that my dad would neglect to tell me and vice versa. When I finally did get my license, there were some rules to adhere to. I was not supposed to be listening to music, though I know I did, and I wasn’t allowed to have anyone in the passenger seat for at least the first 6 months. Although I’m pretty sure if safeGdriver was around when I was first starting out, this app would be definitely be allowed to ride shotgun with me.
safeGdriver was developed by a software engineer in Webster NY. The main function of this app is to identify gravitational force, which can causes errors like braking too late, harsh swerving, and other errors that an untrained teenage eye may make. This app is like having a parent in the front seat to tell you when you are going too fast, braking abruptly, or turned too quickly. To use, a teen may activate the device and place in a cup-holder or in an iPhone mount. It works any which way you put it, even upside down. As you drive, safeGdriver will send out a variety of audio signals to communicate any errors the driver may make. I know some may be thinking right about now, but Erica, this will encourage teens to fiddle with their phones while driving. I have to say the creator did not fail to address that concern. This app produces absolutely no visual feedback, only audio. So, there is no reason to even look at the phone until after you’ve reached your destination. When you are ready to view your results, safeGdriver provides some graphs highlighting the difficulties the driver had. For a teen, getting visual feedback works wonders, as opposed to a parent telling them they have made mistakes; now there is proof from an unbiased party.
I tried this app out to see how I would measure up on the road. The first option upon launching the app is “Start New Trip” or “Show Last Trip”. “Show Last Trip” would provide a graph with visual feedback for previous trips. Since it was my first trip, I selected: “Start New Trip”. It then prompted me to choose the road condition with 3 choices; Normal, Caution, and Hazardous. I chose “Normal” and proceeded to the “Configure Limits” button. The app then began to calibrate my trip. I noticed that during the whole trip the one button on the screen was a huge button that read “Stop”. When I was finished with the trip, I hit that button and took a look at my trip details. The detailed feedback indicated my trip start and finish time as well as the “Number of Alarms” or total number of errors such as; going too fast, braking abruptly, or turning too quickly.
safeGdriver is a great concept for young teen drivers. I love the idea that this app teaches you with real time results and instant feedback. On the other hand, the app is very minimal with no other features or graphics other than the small chart at the end. I think the price is probably a bit steep at almost $2.00 for what the app actually does, but then again if teens can actually use this tool as a way to learn and correct their driving flaws, well, then that’s priceless.