Montana teenager creates app to help young drivers stay safe

HELENA — Jesse Hruska, a senior at Capital High School, has noticed that many people his age are prone to distracted driving. This prompted him to create an app, to help them refresh road safety rules.

“I didn’t just want to create some sort of driver safety education app, because that’s usually pretty boring,” he said.

What he finally came up with was “An Evening Drive”. His hard work paid off as he became Montana’s winner this year Congressional Applications Challenge.

The app is story-based, with a dozen scenes each illustrating a security concept. The user must decide what to do. If they choose well, the trip goes smoothly. Otherwise, they might have an accident – and then get a lesson in what they should have done.

“It’s more interactive, and I hope it’s more interesting and engaging for students to learn about driver safety,” Jesse said.

Jonathon Ambarian

A look at “An Evening Drive,” an app from Capital High senior Jesse Hruska designed to encourage safe driving. It won this year’s Congressional App Challenge for Montana.

This year, Jesse was one of four students from Jamie Toivonen’s computer science class to participate in the Congressional App Challenge, an annual student contest sponsored by members of the US House.

“What’s amazing with a lot of these students taking computer classes now is that you teach them the basics, and they’re kind of going to get by,” Toivonen said.

She says she was impressed with all of the students’ work.

“Just seeing what they might come up with, their ideas – and all the ideas these students came up with will help someone in some way,” she said.

Jesse says he probably put 45 hours into his app, at school and at home. Besides programming it, he also did all the art, research, and writing.

His efforts paid off – U.S. Representative Matt Rosendale of Montana selected “An Evening Drive” as this year’s winner for Montana.

“Every day people are distracted by their phone or tablet while driving,” Rosendale said in a statement. “More than one million car accidents occur each year around the world due to the use of mobile phones by drivers. Jesse Hruska’s app is a fun interactive tool for teaching people the importance of safe driving, and it also serves as a stark reminder that driving without distraction not only affects your life, but the lives of those around you. surround. Congratulations to Jesse for winning the Congressional App Challenge 2022. His hard work will make people think twice before choosing to get distracted on the road.

Jesse only found out a few days ago when the winners were officially announced.

Jesse Hruska

Jonathon Ambarian

Capital High Senior Jesse Hruska shows off “An Evening Drive,” the app he designed that won this year’s Congressional App Challenge for Montana.

“I was like, ‘Oh well, I probably haven’t won if I haven’t gotten more emails about this,'” he said. link and I scrolled down to Montana and saw my app was there, and I was like, ‘What’s going on?'”

Its application works on both phones and computers. He hopes it can eventually be used in driver safety courses, and he hopes other students will try the programming.

“I’ve always been interested in computing, but was too apprehensive to try it until last year,” he said. “So I would definitely suggest: go for it, give it a try, see if it’s for you. It’s a very cool field.

Click here to use the app.

This is the second time a student from the capital has won the Congressional App Challenge for Montana. In 2018, Kyler Nelson and Andrew Stroop won with the GCodeHelper app, to help machinists-in-training learn how to program computer-controlled equipment.


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