Chet Skwarcan is an award-winning engineer, writer, and industry innovator in the field of traffic engineering. He is known for leveraging his creativity, logic, and technology to solve today’s engineering challenges.

Rate the Driver in Front of You

Take your dad for a drive and ask him to provide tips on how to drive better and where to turn. Ask him to rate your driving. Dads love to do this.

Feedback is an effective way to improve something. Want to make something better? Track it. Rate it. How many stars? This works for me but what about all those other cars?

Unfortunately, the general nature of driving makes this kind of feedback impossible. There’s no way to rate nearby “anonymous” drivers. Uber has a system. At the end of each trip, you are able to rate your driver from 1 to 5 stars. Driving with your mother-in-law provides similar information.

Granted, the diagnostics port on many vehicles provides some interesting data including speed, unusual acceleration, and unusual braking. Newer vehicles provide this data (and much more) to their manufacturer about every three seconds. But still, this information is limited to your vehicle — not the car in front of you or the car behind you (or the car in front of the car behind you). How can we provide feedback to the cars around us?

In 2008, a website called was created to provide a means for rating nearby vehicles. According to their website, “PlateWire is a public repository and electronic forum of drivers by drivers. Using a drivers license plate, commuters can communicate their thoughts and feelings in regards to driving on today’s roadways.”

Although feedback ratings sounded like a good way to improve something, recording license plates and entering information on a website was too cumbersome.

It’s only a matter of time before there’s an iPhone app allowing instant tagging and vehicle rating. And a smart windshield would, of course, display this information for each vehicle. Threshold alerts could be programmed for “problem vehicles.” My advice? Get in the habit (now) of borrowing someone else’s vehicle whenever possible…

Chet Skwarcan (traffic engineer, author, unique insights) with over 25 years of traffic engineering experience — online help available at