Skip to Content
Streetsblog California home
Streetsblog California home
Log In
Screen shot 2015-12-16 at 9.51.46 AM

Was this tweet a joke?  Why would Caltrans promote a potentially distracting video game called “The Distraction Zone”?

But no, says Caltrans spokesperson Jason Probst, or rather yes: it's real. The game is part of a promotion for the work zone awareness campaign, “Be Work Zone Alert,” and Caltrans is giving away a cash prize for the best score.

In the course of thoroughly researching this post, your hardworking SBCA editor tried it out for you, from the safety and comfort of my very own couch. Now I can somewhat authoritatively say that, eh, ahem, well, er... it could be a fun game, for a few minutes anyway. It might be a good distraction for tykes strapped into car seats in cars stuck in traffic. It could even succeed in teaching a thing or two about driving safely.

You have to pay attention to the road, to the speed limit—which keeps changing—and to the coned-off work areas.

Cops appear behind you instantly if you don't slow down immediately - so that lets you know that it's definitely fantasy. Yes, I got a few speeding tickets before I figured out where the speed limit sign was, and I lost points when I ran over a few cones.

Caltrans was unable to confirm or deny whether the game's smog and greenhouse gas emissions monitor features had been disabled. Rumors are that the software developer working on emissions gamification was recruited away by Volkswagen, but that's just hearsay.

On the other hand, it was super easy for me to ignore the phone on the console that kept offering up texts about upcoming parties. Who are these people anyway? And why the heck is there a phone placed right in the driver's view? I know that's a thing, I know people do it—but why is Caltrans tacitly giving this practice the agency's okay?

Use the comments below to let me and Caltrans know how the agency might better invest public dollars, instead of developing, promoting, and rewarding a fun but ultimately silly pro-driving video game.

And let me know your high score in the comments too. Just please don't play this game while actually navigating traffic.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog California

Port Lobbyists Trying to Kill Bike and Pedestrian Safety in Oakland

Trucking/port lobbyists want to destroy a long-established plan to build protected bike lanes connecting Jack London Square, West Oakland, and downtown

July 12, 2024

Friday Video: Take a Spin on Boston’s Electric Cargo Bike Share

Can't afford a $7,000 Urban Arrow cargo e-bike ? In Boston, you can now rent one for just a few bucks.

July 12, 2024

Friday’s Headlines

5 recommendations for high-speed rail; Caltrans, stop building new freeway lanes already; "Data bikes" can collect information about bike path conditions; More

July 12, 2024

Next Week: Active Transportation Program Workshop

The good news is that there will be a Cycle 7. But it will be small, and there will be hard choices about what gets funded.

July 11, 2024

Metro and Caltrans Still Planning 605 Expansion, Plus Four Connecting Freeways

Metro and Caltrans are planning to spend billions of dollars widening the 605, 5, 10, 60 and 105 Freeways. Really.

July 11, 2024
See all posts