Toyota has created a new smartphone app that rewards drivers who don’t use their phones while driving—with free coffee. The app, only available for use in the Aichi Prefecture of Japan, uses the phone’s sensors to track whether it has been used while the car is in motion.
The app is called Driving Barista and requires a small amount of interaction from the driver before the journey begins. You have to launch the app, then place your phone face down before setting off. Then, the app tracks miles traveled with GPS, and uses the phone’s gyroscope to make sure you haven’t picked it up. As long as you leave it alone, the app racks up the miles. After the first 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, drivers get a coupon for a free cup of coffee at a Komeda Coffee Shop. After this easy taster, drivers need to travel 200 kilometers to get a free cup. Pickup up your phone resets the count to zero.
Why Aichi Prefecture in particular? According to Toyota, the region has suffered the highest rate of traffic fatalities in Japan for 13 years running. "In 2015 alone, there were 44,3691 traffic accidents which resulted in injuries or deaths," says Toyota’s press release. "Furthermore, there were also 50,101 arrests involving the use of smartphones while driving, and the increase in violations of this nature has also intensified the problem." Perhaps the most amazing fact for U.S. citizens and Europeans is that anybody was arrested at all for using their phones while driving. Toyota’s app is part of a rather bluntly-titled safety campaign for the region: "AICHI: No Longer the Worst."
It’s possible that passengers could hack the scheme to get free coffee even while not driving, but who cares, really? Toyota’s plan is surely as much about publicizing the problem as it is about free coffee. One hopes, though, that a driver doesn’t run few extra laps around the local Komeda Coffee Shop to reach the target for their next free cup.
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