A Seattle man was just named the city's safest driver. Russell Lebert, 38, is a financial advisor who drives a Honda Accord. He ended up with a perfect score in Seattle’s Safest Driver contest.
“I, by no way, thought that I would be the winner,” said Lebert, who drives every other day for errands, work, and volunteering opportunities.
The contest, a partnership between the Seattle Department of Transportation and PEMCO Insurance, measured habits like phone distraction, harsh braking, speeding, cornering, and using a smartphone app which runs in the background.
If there's one thing Lebert thinks made the biggest difference, it was his phone usage. He says putting it down, using it only for navigation, and paying attention to the road instead of the latest text made him a more careful driver.
“I realized in the middle of the contest I wasn't even thinking about touching my phone and how nice and cool is that, that you can have the freedom while you're driving and be detached from that interruption,” Lebert said.
SDOT says the contest helped several people improve their habits. Among the top half of app users, phone distraction dropped 20%. Harsh braking declined 18%, and speeding went down 16%.
“The takeaway is that people are capable of behavior change,” said Allison Schwartz, SDOT communications advisor.
Lebert, who took home a $2,000 prize, does not have a flawless record. Like many drivers, he's been in a wreck, and there may have been a speeding ticket at some point.
“No comment,” he said with a chuckle, “Yeah, I have, a long time ago though.”
SDOT says there were actually several drivers with perfect scores. They pooled them together and selected a winner at random.
The contest was modeled off a similar one in Boston.