Admit it, there’s not a single person among us who hasn’t picked up their phone while driving. “I only do it while I’m stopped at a stoplight” is an often-heard excuse.
The statistics regarding the dangers of texting and driving are startling. According to the National Safety Council, the activity results in 1,600,000 accidents per year in the U.S. There are 330,000 injuries per year as a result of these accidents, according to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study.
Brace yourself: There are 11 teen deaths every day because of texting and driving, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It is the number one driving distraction reported by teen drivers. But how do you actually get them to put down the phone and focus on the road? Chevy sought to do more than just tell teens “don’t do it.”
The automaker sponsored an all-day, all-out hack-a-thon in Detroit called the Chevrolet Hack Lab. The purpose of the event, part of Chevy’s celebration of International Children’s Day, was to harness the uninhibited ingenuity of 30 brilliant teens ages 13-19 from around the world (including the United States, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Dubai, Israel, and India) to discover new solutions.
The day began with a briefing on the challenge. After being divided into small groups, the participants began brainstorming innovative solutions to texting and driving, using their understanding of technology as well as understanding the psychology behind “positive peer pressure” — which were identified as keys to driving behavioral change.
The teens were guided by mentors from Chevrolet and their respective agencies (McCann Worldgroup and Commonwealth), as well as representatives from Google and Facebook. Throughout the day, the teen hackers had access to a texting and driving simulator that allowed them to get virtual time behind the wheel of the Chevrolet Cruze and experience distracted driving in a safe environment. As the day moved along, the abstract began to take shape as fully imagined, executable solutions.
So what did they come up with? Concepts ranged from tiered reward systems that incentivized safer driving habits to pieces of wearable technology for your steering wheel that held the driver accountable for keeping both hands on the wheel.
The winning concept was selected by a panel of subject matter experts and the teens themselves. Ultimately, the panelists and peers chose vPal, an audible alert system that uses the voices of loved ones to help personalize the risk drivers are taking when they text and drive. The winning team, with members from Dubai, Canada and the United States, was presented the Hack Lab trophy.
The solutions will be featured in a new series of social posts from Chevy dedicated to the efforts of the Hack Lab Participants and the goal of ending texting and driving.
Chevrolet Global Digital Marketing Assistant Manager Laura Litka says the reasoning behind the event was, “Who better to come up with a solution to a problem that affects teens than teens themselves.”
“At Chevrolet, 'Find New Roads' is more than just a tagline, it’s a belief that ingenuity is what enables people to make the most of life’s possibilities and make every mile count,” Litka says. “We wanted to celebrate the open-mindedness and creativity of kids—and how they tend to simply refuse to believe something isn’t possible—by giving them an opportunity to brainstorm new solutions to a habit that impacts their peers, their families, and societies around the globe.”
Obviously, this bad habit has consequences for everyone—not just teens—but as this type of communication is prevalent in this age group, it made sense to engage with them on it, she says.
“All of the participants at this year’s event were also excited about the opportunity to meet other kids with the same interests,” she says. “It was so inspiring to see. We all were extremely pleased with the outcomes of the Chevrolet Hack Lab and will continue to celebrate the ingenious thinking of kids in our efforts—for Children’s Day and beyond.”
Hopefully, between the event and the social media campaign Chevy is hosting, there will be fewer teens — and adults — who text and drive (at stoplights or otherwise.)