Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced a new piece of his Vision Zero plan to end traffic-related fatalities and injuries today: an app-based contest to become the city’s safest driver.

With a few tongue-in-cheek nods to Bostonians' reputation for bad driving, the competition is a kind of public relations campaign aimed at channeling the kind of aggressive competition found on Boston roadways into an incentive to drive more responsibly.

The project, called the “Boston Safest Driver Competition,” is the result of a collaboration between the Mayor’s Office of Urban Mechanics, which tries to foster partnerships between city government and the private tech sector and Cambridge Mobile Telematics, a Cambridge-based tech company that develops software aimed at promoting better driving behavior.

The competition is both a contest and an eponymous smartphone app, which records five measurements of behavior that can lead to accidents: rapid acceleration, harsh braking, sharp turns, speeding, and drivers fiddling with their phones.

The app rates each trip by how well—or, rather, poorly—the driver performed.

Boston drivers can compete with each other via a smart phone app for better safety ratings. There are cash prizes for winners.  

The announcement of the competition was followed by a somewhat more visceral demonstration of the hazards of distracted driving.

Walsh climbed into the seat of a driving simulator and tried to send a text message while driving behind a virtual SUV.

He was doing pretty well—until he crashed when the SUV suddenly slowed down.

“For the record,” Walsh said, looking a bit chagrined, “I don’t text and drive.”