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State Farm new driving app
A screen grab from "Driving Feedback," a new iPhone application from State Farm that can track and point out risky driving behaviors by new and old drivers alike.

This may sound familiar: A concerned parent tells his or her teenager they drive too fast, brake too late and turn like it's a video game.

"No, I don't!" the teen retorts. "Yes, you do!" the parent insists -- and so on.

Enter "Driver Feedback," the latest safe-driving mobile phone application launched by State Farm Insurance Cos.

The free app uses the iPhone's accelerometer -- an instrument inside the device that measures motion -- to grade how safely (or unsafely) a driver accelerates, brakes and turns. It can kick out a score, map out exactly where any risky driving happened on the trip, and give safety tips.

And for dialogue (or disputes) between parents and their teen drivers, the app can serve as referee, said State Farm spokeswoman Vicki Harper.

"It's like having an objective third party in there, so the conversations perhaps go a little better than they might otherwise," she said.

The app launched April 27 and has been downloaded more than 13,700 times, said Eli Winn, manager from Enterprise Internet Solutions team that worked on the app. It joins several other apps developed by the Bloomington-based insurer, from blocking texting while driving to young-driver education.

Let's say you accelerate too quickly off the stoplight at Veterans Parkway and Empire Street. After the trip, your score would take a hit, and a map would show a yellow, orange or red alert dot.

Then, some basic tips -- the app is geared primarily toward new drivers -- pop up and say things like "Easy does it" and explain why, said Cindy Garretson, director of auto safety research at State Farm. (A side benefit: Accelerating too fast wastes gas, she said, making the tracker especially handy these days.)

Drivers can get scores from 50 to 100. The maximum score is difficult to get by design, and it bottoms out at 50 so that mischievous teens don't deliberately try to get a zero, she said.

Data collected by the app remains there, and is not collected or used by State Farm, the company said.

The app can also send text or email notifications when a trip is completed.

"It's great to know your teen has arrived at their destination safely," Garretson said.

State Farm is the largest auto insurer in the U.S. The app is only for the iPhone and iPod Touch.


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