April Cover of Right at HOME magazine

No driver can ignore warnings about distracted driving. Texas law even made using the phone while driving illegal in 2017. Deep inside we agree distracted driving is dangerous and wrong, but somehow when we hear that tone ping, the compulsion to check our phone is so strong it overwhelms our best intentions. 

Did you know nine out of 10 young people expect a text to be answered in five minutes or less? 89% of people say no one should text and drive, BUT, “they are the exception.” According to the National Safety Council, a driver is 23 times more likely to crash when texting and driving. 

What if instead of focusing on bad behavior, we could break the habit by commending people when they do right? 

That idea is the premise of the SAFE 2 SAVE program, which incentivizes safe driving behavior through a mobile app that rewards users for not “teching” and driving. Their motto: Remind, Drive, Compete, Redeem. 

The simple yet effective initiative was created in 2016 to offer exclusive rewards to those who use the free SAFE 2 SAVE app to monitor their driving. SAFE 2 SAVE encourages drivers to set maps and music before they begin. Drivers open the app each time they start a trip and accumulate two points for every minute they drive over 10 mph without using their phone. If they do pick up the phone while driving, they will not accumulate any points and their driving score will be affected. That score helps users become self aware and strive to do better, said  Meagan Kamara, SAFE 2 SAVE’s Director of Community Engagement.  

SAFE 2 SAVE partners with more than 1500 restaurants and online retailers to offer discounts for safe driving. Popular awards have been a free Chick-fil-A sandwich, La Madeline’s lemon tart or petite Caesar salad, or Schlotzsky’s $3 off $15, all earned with 500 safe driving points. “A Huntsville car dealership even offered $500 off a vehicle for 10,000 points!” Meagan said. 

Getting started is easy. Just search for SAFE 2 SAVE on the App Store and download right to your phone. Then create an account. The app will ask for a referral code. Type in RAH, and Right at HOME Magazine will give you 500 points just for getting started! The app also asks you to upload an “is it worth it” photo to your Home Screen. That’s the picture of your loved ones that will display if you touch your phone while driving. 

“It’s a visual reminder right at the point of distraction that helps you remember that texting and driving is not worth someone’s life,” Meagan said. “I work at SAFE 2 SAVE, but when my phone dings, I’m just as tempted.” 

SAFE 2 SAVE founder Marci Corry created the program in 2016 in response to a fatal accident involving two Texas A&M students, enlisting the computer programming skills of her husband, Trey. In 2018, they partnered with Fort Bend ISD in Houston to sponsor a high school competition, which resulted in a 21% reduction in distraction related tickets and collisions. 

“Users in a competition are more likely to be engaged,” Meagan said. SAFE 2 SAVE now is being used by almost 500,000 drivers across Texas, with plans to expand statewide by the end of the year, Meagan said. SAFE 2 SAVE hopes to reach users nationwide by 2022.  

SAFE 2 SAVE came to San Antonio through a connection between sponsor University Health and Melinda Cox, North East ISD Council of PTA’s Healthy Lifestyles Chair. Like Marci, Melinda is determined to change the cultural norms of distracted driving. 

This April, NEISD introduces a competition to pit faculty and staff against the families of the district’s 68,000 students. Weekly cash prize winners will be selected from those who keep a good driving score of 90 or above. 

In May, the organization launches a SAFE 2 SAVE Family premium app, available for a small monthly fee. Like SAFE 2 SAVE PRO, intended for businesses, SAFE 2 SAVE FAM allows parents to track their teen’s driving as well as monitor their driving score and distractions. “FAM is their most requested solution,” Meagan said. Rewards apply to the driver, and what teen doesn’t like a free sandwich? 

With SAFE 2 SAVE, everyone is to make the world a little safer, because, “One life lost to distracted driving is one too many.” 

By Amy Morgan