In this fortnight’s Take 10 with…, senior lecturer Dr Ian Warren and professional teaching fellow Dr Andrew Meads from the Department of Computer Science give us 10 minutes of their time to discuss smartphones and safe driving (yep, you did read that right!).
1. Describe your research topic to us in 10 words or less.
“A smartphone app that helps youth drivers drive more safely.” (InSCIde Scoop note: We think they deserve a prize for 10 words on the nose…)
2. Now explain it in ‘layman’s’ terms!
“BackPocketDriver is a smartphone app that monitors the way young people drive.
“The app gathers information during a journey and identifies incidents of speeding, heavy breaking, harsh acceleration and abrupt steering. Using the app, young drivers get to see feedback on their journey, set goals, receive positive reinforcement, and education around safe driving practices.
“The point of difference between BackPocketDriver and other driving apps is that our app is founded on behavioural change theory, which has been successful in other areas, such as supporting people to quit smoking. With our work, we draw on behavioural change theory to encourage youth to adopt and hone safe driving skills.”
3. Describe some of your day-to-day research activities.
“In the early stages of the research, we spent time with focus groups targeting end users and their parents.
“We also consulted with key stakeholders, including the Police, NZTA and the AA. With this input we selected appropriate behavioural change techniques and came up with a set of features for the app.
“Since its development, our day-to-day activities have revolved round promoting the app, recruiting trial participants and working with them to evaluate the app’s potential effectiveness.”
4. What do you enjoy most about your research?
“We’re motivated by applied research that can make a difference to people’s lives.
“Youth drivers are over-represented in road traffic deaths and accidents, and we hope that research like BackPocketDriver will help to reduce the youth road toll.”