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DMV App Aims to Gather Data on Drivers in Training

The voluntary program is part of a study to determine whether “the safety impact of allowing the driving test requirement to be fulfilled through alternative methods” is viable.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is employing a new data collection app, TestBuddy, as part of a program designed to “improve the driver license process.”

The DMV is seeking volunteers among those who don’t yet have a license and who agree to allow their data to be collected as part of the research.

“If you have a driver license permit or plan to take a drive test soon, we need your help with this important study,” the DMV says on its website. “A confidential app combines your driving data with information from other volunteers to help researchers evaluate how driving behavior relates to passing the driving test. This data will not be used to evaluate you or impact your attempt to get a driver’s license.”

The app will gather data that offers insight on driver behavior during various driving conditions, the DMV says.

“The data collected is confidential, will only be used for research purposes, and will be combined with other drivers’ data,” the department says. “You can easily opt out and remove your information from the study, if you decide you no longer want to participate.”

The app, which is available for Android and Apple smartphone users, was created by, a San Diego-based component of Tourmaline Labs Inc.

“Unlike telematics and infinite disjointed point products that provide data that must be manually analyzed and actioned through trial and error, Tourmo enables self-service, automated artificial intelligence and machine learning insights to generate and communicate actionable workflows in real time,” the company says.

“This AI-based mobility platform collects data during a trip to provide objective insights on driver behavior,” the DMV says in its announcement. “DMV TestBuddy is a key part of the modernization journey at the California DMV.”

The announcement includes a comment from DMV Director Steve Gordon: “We hope people will volunteer to help us accelerate innovation and improve the DMV customer experience. We continue to use technology and streamline our processes to modernize the DMV.”

The program sets the stage for the DMV to conduct a comparison study aimed at “exploring alternative options to scheduling and successfully passing a driving test” and “the safety impact of allowing the driving test requirement to be fulfilled through alternative methods.”

The DMV announcement includes a list of questions and answers about the program, including how the data will be used, stored, shared and deleted. It also offers consent forms for participants.
Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies including USA Today in Washington, D.C.