DMV TestBuddy

Driver Education 1

The DMV is seeking volunteers to become DMV Test Buddies to evaluate how technology might improve the driver’s license testing process.

How It Works

The confidential DMV TestBuddy app collects data as you drive, combining your driving data with information from other volunteers to assist with evaluating how driving behavior relates to passing the driving test.

Who Can Volunteer

  • Any Californian with a valid permit for a non-commercial driver license
  • Any Californian with a smart phone and who can download the TestBuddy app
  • Anyone under 18 years old must get approval from a parent or guardian

How to Volunteer

  • Complete a consent form
  • Create a new password to use on the consent form and in the app
  • Download the DMV TestBuddy (iOS or Android) app
  • Install the DMV TestBuddy app, accept its permissions, and then drive as usual – no need to notify DMV of your participation


  • Your data is CONFIDENTIAL and only viewed by DMV researchers
  • The data is combined with information from other volunteers and will not be used to evaluate you individually or influence your application to get a driver’s license.
  • You may opt out at anytime

Questions? Please see the FAQs below.

Ready to Volunteer?

Submit a consent form before you download the TestBuddy App.

“We hope people will volunteer to help us accelerate innovation and improve the DMV customer experience,” said DMV Director Steve Gordon. “We continue to use technology and streamline our processes to modernize the DMV.”


What is DMV TestBuddy?

A free downloadable mobile app that assists DMV researchers determine how driving behavior relates to passing the driving test.

How does it work?

The app is a distraction-free method of collecting driving data only for this evaluation. The app collects location and driving activity, such as speed/acceleration, braking/stopping, and turning/swerving.

Why DMV TestBuddy and not another app I already have installed on my phone?

The DMV TestBuddy app is the only app used by the DMV to collect data about a volunteer’s driving activity and location. DMV TestBuddy is a safe method to collect this data without interfering with your driving and is confidential.

Can other apps be used for this purpose?

No. The DMV TestBuddy app is the only one approved for this evaluation.

How much does it cost to participate?

There is no cost to you as a participant.

How does the technology work?

After the app is downloaded, it collects data related to your driving behavior and the types of roadways you use.

Can I opt out if I choose?

Yes.  You can opt out at any time and request to have your data removed from the app and DMV TestBuddy study. Participation has no impact on your driving test or obtaining a driver’s license.

Does the app use GPS (Global Positioning System)?

Yes. The app uses GPS and motion data to provide researchers with the necessary information to study driving activity.

What password should I use?

Please use the same password for the TestBuddy app as you used (or will use) on the consent form. This password should be different from the password you use to access your MyDMV account on the DMV website.

What user name should I use?

Use the same permit or license number for the TestBuddy app as you used (or will use) on the consent form.

What is the DMV’s legal authority to use this technology?

The DMV’s legal authority to conduct this evaluation falls under the purview of California Vehicle Code § 12804.8.

What kind of data does the app collect?

Participants provide their name, permit or driver’s license number, and email address.  The app collects information on driving activity, including location, speed/acceleration, braking/stopping, and turning/swerving. This information is used only for the purposes of research and evaluation, and is subject to the limitations in the Information Practices Act and state policy.

Does TestBuddy use video or audio?

No. The app does not use audio or video.

How does the DMV plan to use the data collected?

The DMV will use this data to evaluate alternative options for scheduling and passing the non-commercial driving test and the potential effects these options may have on public safety.

Who will have access to the data collected and how will it be secured?

The DMV worked with the app developer to specify the kind of data that is necessary to collect. This data is only accessible by individuals authorized by the DMV. Data is not be shared with insurance companies, law enforcement, or participants’ parents or legal guardians. Refer to DMV’s Information Security and Disclosure Statement for more information.

What steps will be taken to ensure the data is secure from other persons?

The DMV has partnered with the app developer to follow standards and best practices for secure data collection.

What steps will be taken to ensure those with access to data do not share or use it for purposes other than its intended purpose of driver evaluation?

The DMV follows the same guidelines and regulations that protect other personal data collected by the DMV.

What steps will be taken to ensure the data is destroyed after used for intended purpose?

All data will be destroyed according to DMV data retention policies based on data type.

Is the data collected by the app going to be included on my DMV record?

No. The information collected will only be used for this DMV research project and will not affect your qualification for a driver’s license or be included on your driver record.

Do I have to use the DMV TestBuddy app to be licensed?

No, participation is voluntary. The app collects data related to driving behavior and is used for DMV research. It plays no role in obtaining a driver’s license.

What if I can’t afford a smartphone or don’t want one?

While participation is voluntary, the DMV TestBuddy app is required to participate. If you do not have a smartphone, you cannot volunteer.

What if I have a smartphone, but don’t want to install the app?

Participation in the study is voluntary, but the DMV TestBuddy app is required to participate. If you do not have a smartphone or do not wish to install the app, you cannot volunteer.

Will declining to use the app create additional barriers to getting a driver’s license?

No. Participation is voluntary and plays no role in obtaining a driver’s license.

Is there any way that using the app can create additional barriers to getting a driver’s license?

No. Data collected is only used by the DMV for research and evaluation of DMV processes.

What if I score poorly?

There are no consequences if your data reflects poor driving behavior. The DMV may explore additional features to provide feedback on driver behavior through the app.

How will the collected data be used to evaluate my driving?

Data will be compared with information collected from other participants who are driving in similar locations, on similar road types, or in similar conditions.

What about high-level driving skills that cannot be assessed by the app, such as proper lane selection, giving space to cyclists, observing right-of-way, maintaining safe following distance and speed of surrounding traffic, etc.?

Only driving activity collected by the app will be used in the evaluation.

Can the data collected be used to delay or deny my driver’s license? (For example, what if I score very poorly?)

No. Participation will not play a role in determining a driver’s eligibility to be licensed.

Could I receive citations or fines because of my driving behavior when using the app, even if I was never pulled over by an officer?


Still Have Questions?

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