My apps and I are not on good terms.
The thing about phone apps is, they’re supposed to solve your problems, right? Help you make good decisions. Make your life better.
But despite possessing 33 apps, I still have no friends on SnapChat, no one has ever FaceTimed me, and my Lose Weight By Hypnosis app hasn’t helped me shed one single pound (but apparently I do cluck like a chicken if you clap three times).
So when I heard about the Oregon Department of Transportation’s new free “Drive Healthy” app, I was skeptical. But the promise of getting points for not texting while driving — and potentially helping me avoid a $2,000 ticket — shone bright. I have to admit, I check my phone while driving. Not a good decision. And I have, on occasion, texted while sitting at a red light. Also not smart.
It wasn’t the easiest app to find. Maybe I need a “Follow Directions” app that would tell me to actually read the www.drivehealthy.org website first.
If you search for “driving healthy,” the first option that pops up is “BigRoad Truck Driver Log Book.” Not too useful for someone who spends most of her day in an office, though I did like the “hours remaining on duty” time clock.
Also beckoning for a download were myriad parking simulation apps, including the “Taxi Parking Real Car Driving Simulator,” which promises “tons of challenging parking missions.” Since my parking’s not that great and I love a good challenge, I downloaded it.
Type in “healthy driving,” and up pops “GymPact: Earn Cash for Exercise and Healthy Living.” In this app, you “earn cash for living healthy, paid by members who don’t.” Apparently you get money for completing one workout a day or you dearly pay. Since I need a reason to work out, I downloaded that one, too.
When it finally dawned on me to return to the Drive Healthy website, I found the app is actually called “LifeSaver.” Maybe there should be a “Read ODOT’s Mind” app. Would save us all some time.
After inputting my phone number and adjusting a few settings, I was ready to go. I hit the home button and started driving.
How will I know whether the app works if I don’t get a text? While stopped at a light, I texted my friend, “Could you text me something? I’m trying out this new app.” He texted back. The app told me, “KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD.” Well, I thought, you don’t have to shout.
The message also has an OPEN button, and being the curious journalist I am, I pressed it. It gives you the option of “passenger” or “emergency,” I guess meaning you could call 911 or fake out the app and claim you’re not actually driving.
If you keep holding your phone, which I assume is another big no-no — a "Things You’ve Already Learned" app would’ve told me that — the app keeps flashing, “KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD,” so I pressed that notification again just to get rid of it. So annoying.
When I arrived home, I clicked on my LifeSaver dashboard to document my progress:
Safe drive time: 0. Usage violations: 5.
— Reach Editor Cathy Noah at 541-776-4464 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.