MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Despite more states treating distracted driving as a primary offense, driving deaths are up 14 percent since 2015 according to the National Safety Council.
Cambridge Mobile Telematics is hoping to curb the rate of distraction by using one of the very things that causes it: mobile apps. The company’s DriveWell app runs in the background and can sense when your phone is in your hand, in a vehicle in motion, and measures use.
In addition to driving habits, the data collected has also revealed the top distracted roads in cities, including Miami.
Data collected from more than 1,300 drivers using DriveWell in Miami ranks Brickell Avenue from Southeast 6th Street to 15th Streets as Miami’s most distracted stretch of road.
Cars come inches away from pedestrians in the busy live/work/play neighborhood. Danae Capriles who lives in the area was not surprised by the finding.
“Maybe it’s that people here are working and they are distracted by phone calls and everything. They just have to take it slow,” said Capriles.
Less than a mile south, a stretch of 3rd Avenue in Coral Way from Southwest 12th Avenue to 24th Road is the second most distracted section of road, based on the data compiled by the app.
The third is the north end of US1, from Brickell Avenue to Ponce de Leon Boulevard in Coral Gables.
“The thing that we found is that all of those distracting activities, and this is what the study showed, are very, very highly correlated with the risk of getting into an accident,” says Sam Madden on Cambridge Mobile Telematics.
“You have no idea how many cars we pick up from people who are texting, rear-end collisions. Why do you think our insurance rates are going up?” said tow truck driver George Montesino.
Cambridge Mobile Telematics partners with insurance companies so insurers can use the technology in their own safe driver programs.
A Florida Highway Patrol spokesman said the Golden Glades Interchange and the SR 836/826 Interchange are where troopers spot many distracted drivers.
Still, DriveWell’s data shows busy roads aren’t always the most distracted.
In the three month period in which data was collected for the app developer’s study, two relatively quiet areas of Miami ranked in the top five most distracted.
The corner of Northeast 83rd street and 4th court came in fourth place. Fifth place is occupied by San Marco Island, along the Venetian Causeway connecting the mainland to Miami Beach, dotted with million-dollar homes with the main road shared by those enjoying the views.
“Pedestrians, a lot of people use bikes to get to, from the mainland to South Beach,” says Kevin Abbanato who lives nearby and was walking his dog Lady on San Marco Island.
So why do we do it? John Lindsay, who works in Brickell, said we’re addicted.
“We can’t pull away. We need to be connected,” he said. “I’d hate to go all California and ban texting while driving, but I think that may be one of the only ways to do it.”
The creators of DriveWell claim that even states where texting while driving is banned, drivers still use their phones on average 3.17 minutes for every hundred miles driven. They believe the behavior needs to be changed with positive reinforcement. The app shows encouraging comments and awards badges to drivers it deems safe based on personal driving data.
“Somewhat provocatively, actually smartphones, the things that are driving this distraction, can be the thing that also educates people and makes them better drivers,” says Madden.
A study by another safe driving app, EverDrive, ranks Florida second only to Louisiana when it comes to drivers using their smartphones while behind the wheel.