With the average commute approaching 25 minutes according to the American Time Use Survey, Americans are spending more time behind the wheel than ever. Unsurprisingly, a new wave of social networks is focusing on the experience of driving, enabled by increasing penetration of smartphones equipped with GPS and voice recognition capabilities. Also unsurprisingly, the networks hope to capitalize on a nearly universal demand to vent anger at bad drivers.
The newest drive-time social network is an iPhone (and soon Android) app called DriveMeCrazy, which allows drivers to complain about bad drivers through voice-activated commands. The aggrieved party just speaks the offending driver's license plate number to flag it, so they can "write a ticket" describing the offense at their leisure. They can also look up the driver's previous record on DriveMeCrazy, post details of the egregious driving on Twitter and Facebook, and -- perhaps most satisfying -- record an audio message for the other driver (provided he or she is also a member). On a less serious note, users can also rate other drivers by hotness, and send messages and pictures, making it a drive-time dating app as well.
This all sounds fun and cute, but DriveMeCrazy aims to have a serious impact by discouraging bad driving: the company says it will submit information about bad drivers to DMVs, insurance companies, and law enforcement -- provided they have systems in place to receive and process the data. As this could obviously affect insurance premiums, DriveMeCrazy says it has safeguards to prevent people from filing unsubstantiated, petty, or malicious complaints.
Back in September I wrote about Bump.com, a new social network which lets members create profiles tied to their license plate numbers and communicate with other members via their license plate numbers. Like DriveMeCrazy, Bump.com lets you send messages to other drivers -- both aggrieved and amorous -- and also features driver ratings to shame bad drivers into reforming their ways. You can also tell someone that their car alarm is going off, their taillight is busted, they left their lights on, and so on.
Unlike DriveMeCrazy, Bump.com says it won't share negative information about members with insurance companies, although it will comply with information requests from law enforcement.