Social network Road Shamer wants to expose bad drivers and shame Australians into driving better
Every driver thinks they’re perfect and that the problem lies with everybody else on the road. An Israeli startup is letting them prove it by providing a platform for them to share videos of bad drivers.
The startup, which is active around Europe and North America, launched in Australia a few weeks ago. Nadav Golombick, Road Shamer’s Australian manager – the Israeli founder is staying anonymous – said the site aims to expose bad drivers and create safer roads.
Essentially a social network for drivers, Road Shamer works like sites such as Zapatag.com: it allows users to write ‘reviews’ of drivers and list them by their number plate, with the added video removing the ‘he said, she said’ element. Drivers can upload dash cam or smartphone footage to the site, with users then able to rate the level of danger of the driving and rate the driver on an ‘A-hole scale’. Video categories include running a red light, not giving way at a roundabout, tailgating, and ‘almost accident’, with over 1000 videos uploaded already.
“Most people would not commit all these offences or drive as recklessly if they saw a police vehicle on the side of the road. So if they think the person next to them could be recording them, they may think twice before running a red light or driving on the side lines or just cutting people off,” Golombick said.
Road Shamer blurs out drivers to make sure they cannot be personally identified, but the tracking of number plates and plate history is entirely legal, as it’s information that is already in the public domain; states around Australia have websites that provide basic number plate information, such as the make and model of a car.
As well as exposing bad drivers, Golombick said the site hopes to reduce road rage by giving people an outlet for their anger online.
“Instead of going out and trying to confront the driver or shouting at the driver, they just know that they can take the video, upload it and calm down straight away after being cut off or something else that really upset them,” he said.
There are a few options for monetising the platform. Golombick envisions a subscription model where Road Shamer would provide insurance companies with a database of information about offending vehicles, allowing them to make more informed choices in regards to insuring drivers. Other possible uses includes having parents track their P plater’s car, with alerts triggered if something comes up.
“I also imagine that organisations that have a fleet of vehicles, like banks and telcos, want their employees to be driving their cars nicely. It gives the company a bad name if they’re driving like lunatics on the road,” Golombick said.
Road Shamer is also hoping to partner with law enforcement agencies. It has been approaching councils with its new app Quick Shame, which allows users to quickly take a photo of a vehicle committing a parking offence; for example, double parking, stopping in a no-stopping zone, parking in a handicapped spot without a permit, and so on.
The platform is similar to Nexar, another Israeli startup that launched earlier this year. Currently in private beta, Nexar is an app that, when the smartphone is set in a cradle facing the road, uses the phone’s camera and sensors to monitor and record an entire drive. The videos are synced to the cloud after each drive, with the sensors able to isolate and upload clips of any incidents record in the video, taking the pain out of uploading manually. Like ‘social GPS’ app Waze, Nexar also works by connecting all Nexar drivers. A driver can tap their screen when they come across a dangerous driver, with this information then shown to others if they happen to also come across the same car.
Though Road Shamer could become a useful educational tool for young drivers and a driver behaviour-tracking database parents and insurance companies will want to pay for, its success relies on either someone in the passenger seat filming on their phone or the use of dash cams, which are still fairly uncommon in Australia. However the startup is currently looking for investment, which it will put towards marketing efforts to expand its user base.
Image: Nadav Golombick. Source: A Current Affair.