iPhone App Aids in Training Novice Drivers

The Time to Drive app created by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center and Sky Highways was featured on DOT's Fast Lanes blog April 17.

Time to Drive is a new iPhone app designed to help parents make sure their teenage children get more and better practice while learning to drive. The U.S. Department of Transportation's Fast Lane blog featured an article April 17 discussing the dangers of distractions for novice drivers and urging parents to increase the amount of practice driving teens get in various conditions through use of the app.

(The Fast Lane article originally said the app is free, but it actually costs $3.99, which will go toward maintaining the app and research by the UNC Center for the Study of Young Drivers, according to Patty Harrison, communications coordinator for the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center.)

The article was contributed by the center. The Time to Drive app was created by the UNC Highway Safety Research Center and Sky Highways, a Chapel Hill, N.C. company that creates smartphone applications for the transportation industry.

Teens frequently get too little driving experience during the learner stage, and usually they drive in benign conditions, the article says. "Teens rarely obtain experience in more challenging settings such as nighttime, inclement weather, or rural roads."

The app encourages more driving practice by recording the teenager's total amount of driving and encouraging supervised driving in a variety of conditions. It displays a map showing locations where the teen has driven. The app emits an audible warning when the teen brakes too hard to help him or her learn to brake earlier and more smoothly, and it logs hard stops so parents can keep track of moments when the young driver may have been distracted. The article says the app "works in the background while the car is being driven. At no time does it ask a driver to enter any input."

A video about the app is available here.

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