When Terry Goguen found himself driving and drifting into the other lane while on his phone, it hit him that he had to do something to stop this problem of distracted driving.
“Nowadays you see people driving and most of them have their heads down,” Goguen said.
A Middlebury College senior, Goguen, designed JoyRyde, a Smartphone app that allows people to take responsibility of the safety of themselves and others while driving. It keeps track of how many miles one goes without using the phone, rewarding the person with points which can be redeemed for prizes like free coffee or discounts on apparel.
Goguen found that much of the efforts to stop distracted driving were negative, using punishment and graphic content to warn people about the dangers of distracted driving. He wanted to do something more positive to promote safe driving. “What if you could incentivize people? What if you could give people free stuff from cool companies for them to do the right thing?” Goguen said.
Goguen worked on his app with his business partner and professors at Middlebury, and he took a class at the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies. This helped him start the business as well as working in the business incubator center.
The app’s users get rewarded with the prizes of their choice for safe driving. Not only do they get material rewards, they are also keeping themselves safe while driving. “They’re helping out the bigger issue as a whole which is distracted driving crashes all over the nation, which are numerous,” Goguen said.
His business also won two competitions, the Fresh Tracks Road Pitch in Essex, VT and Middlebury’s Business Competition, MiddChallenge.
The app itself uses the phone’s GPS. It tracks how far the person travels with JoyRyde on the screen. There’s a speed center that tracks the car’s speed. For every mile you ride without using your phone, you are rewarded with ten points.
Goguen is still looking to get in touch with some of the big fast food chains, but he has received support from other companies already. For 400 points, one may get a free hot or iced coffee, for example. “They’re more than willing to help with this problem if they can use it to keep their customers safe,” Goguen said.