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SDOT wants to give you cash prizes to be Seattle’s safest driver

Sometimes being a safe driver isn’t enough of its own reward, and the prospect of getting into an accident doesn’t always scare people straight, so the Seattle Department of Transportation is trying cash prizes.

SDOT recently launched the “Seattle’s Safest Driver” app as part of an eight-week competition aimed at improving driver habits, and are giving out cash prizes, up to $5,000.

“The app tracks five different measures, including if you’re speeding, phone distraction, any harsh acceleration or harsh breaking, and then how you take a turn or how you corner,” said SDOT spokesperson Allison Schwartz.

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The first round of the Seattle’s Safest Driver competition was in 2017 and 2018. SDOT saw great success in changing drivers’ behavior.

“We saw distraction go down 26 percent, and speeding go down 32 percent over the course of the eight-week competition, but also for three months after the competition,” she said. After that three months, though, who knows.

Last year’s winner was Seattle resident Russell Lebert, who offered this tip: “My top tip for people would be to go into driving with a positive attitude – remember that you’re behind the wheel of a heavy vehicle that is inherently risky. Second, put your phone down.”

Along with Seattle, the competition is open to residents of King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap county, as long as a portion of their trips occur within Seattle city limits.

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The Seattle’s Safest Driver program runs until July 7, 2019. First place is $5,000, second place is $2,500, and third $1,000. There are also bi-weekly prizes for categories such as best driver, least distracted driver, most transit trips, and most bicycle trips. Those who place last will probably wind up getting tickets.

If a safe driving app sounds counter-intuitive, they’ve thought of that, too. The app won’t give you the score while you’re driving; you’ll have to check your score afterwards.

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