Girl Develops Distracted Driving App, Wins $20,000

We love ingenuity. It’s the American way. But when someone who isn’t even a teenager yet invents an app that discourages distracted driving, it deserves a little extra attention.

As a promotional tool for AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign against texting and driving, the company held a contest for programmers to build the best mobile app to discourage people from texting while behind the wheel. While most sixth graders are preoccupied with iCarly or Spongebob Squarepants, 11-year-old Victoria Walker partnered with interactive designer David Grau to develop Rode Dog, the winning app. She was awarded $20,000 in the process.

Walker and Grau met for the first time at the two-day event in Los Angeles where the challenge was announced last month. Rode Dog is still in its early stages of development, so Walker (and presumably her parents) decided to roll that $20,000 into costs related to fine-tuning her creation.

Here’s how the award-winning app works: “Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark!…”

Yes, the concept is painfully simple, yet powerful. App users can be grouped in “packs” and when someone in the pack is texting while driving, the app starts to bark. But what makes the app viable is that it’s up to other people in the pack to send the bark signal. This sets up a level of accountability for each member.

The concept was inspired by Walker’s three barking dogs, something she thought could get “anyone” to stop texting – even her parents.

“This app allows me to protect my parents if they are driving and texting,” said Walker.

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