DMV TestBuddy


Applying for a Driver’s Permit?

Team up with the DMV to improve driver safety!

Volunteers Needed

Sign up to become a DMV Test Buddy and help us research how technology can improve the driver’s license testing process.

Join the Team

  1. Complete the consent form below.
  2. Download the DMV TestBuddy app from the link we will email to you.
  3. Sign in to the app and drive as usual!

How It Works

A confidential app combines your driving data with information from other volunteers to help researchers evaluate how driving behavior relates to passing the driving test. This data will not be used to evaluate you or impact your attempt to get a driver’s license.

DMV TestBuddy collects data as you drive, providing insight on driver behavior during various driving conditions. The data collected is confidential, will only be used for research purposes, and will be combined with other drivers’ data.

You can easily opt out and remove your information from the study, if you decide you no longer want to participate.

“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.”


Is my participation voluntary?

Your participation is voluntary. If you decide not to take participate, it will not affect your attempt to get a driver’s license.

If you choose to participate, you may opt out at any time by deleting the app and informing researchers at to delete your data.

Are there benefits to taking part in the evaluation?

There are no direct benefits to you for participating in this evaluation, although you might gain a better understanding of your driving behavior and a better idea of whether you are ready to attempt the DMV driving test.

What are the risks of the evaluation?

There are no direct risks from participating in this evaluation.

This evaluation does not involve medical tests or procedures. The evaluation team takes very careful steps to keep your information strictly confidential and minimizes the risk of loss of privacy.

What happens if I participate in the evaluation?

If you agree to participate in the evaluation, you will be asked to install the TestBuddy app, then enter your name, driver’s license (or permit) number on the app. TestBuddy will collect information on your location and driving activity, such as speed/acceleration, braking/stopping, and turning/swerving.

This information will be combined with data collected from other participants and shared with California DMV researchers. This information is confidential and will only be reviewed by DMV researchers.

What are the costs?

There are no costs to participate.

What will happen to the information collected about me?

The information will only be used for this evaluation and related DMV research.  The confidential driving data you provide will be combined with data collected from other volunteers, so that results from this evaluation cannot be linked to you individually.

What about confidentiality?

Your information will be combined with data collected from other people and evaluation reports will not use any names, locations, or other information that could identify you personally.

How long will I be in the evaluation?

If you meet the recruitment criteria, your participation will start after you complete the consent form and install the TestBuddy app. Your participation will end one year after you are licensed to drive. You may be asked to participate in follow-up evaluation activities, which would be strictly voluntary. Again, you may opt out at any time and your participation has no bearing on your driver’s license.

Researchers may request your feedback about this study after the evaluation is completed. Your feedback is voluntary. In order to contact you, the evaluators may keep your contact information as long as 5 years after your participation. By that date, evaluators will remove your name and other information that identifies you from their records. Researchers will keep evaluation records, without your name and other identifiers, indefinitely to use in reports linked to this evaluation.

What other options are there?

Participating in this evaluation is voluntary. If you do not want to take part in the evaluation, you can complete your licensing process normally.

What is DMV TestBuddy?

A mobile app that can be downloaded to a smartphone.

What is it for and how does it claim to achieve this?

The app is a distraction-free method of collecting driving data only for the study you are participating in. The app will collect location and driving activity such as speed/acceleration, braking/stopping, and turning/swerving.

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

The DMV TestBuddy app builds on proprietary technology that is calibrated in cooperation with the DMV to monitor accurately the underlying data without misrepresenting your driving. DMV TestBuddy is a safe place for data to be collected and made available to the study without the worry of the data being shared with other entities outside DMV.

Can other apps be used for this purpose?

No. The DMV TestBuddy app allows you to participate in the study in a single, secure place.

How much does it cost? Is it free?

There is no cost to you as a participant.

How does the technology work?

Participants opt in by accepting the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Agreement. After participants download the app, the app runs on its own and collects driving activities while operating the vehicle to measure driving characteristic for this study.

Can I opt out after opting in?

Yes, participation can be cancelled at any time and the participant can request to have their data removed from the app and study. Participation results will have no impact on your drive test or obtaining a driver’s license.

Does the app use Global Positioning System (GPS)?


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

Voluntary participation does not require specific authority.

What kind of data does the app collect?

The participant provides first and last name, permit or driver’s license number, and their email address. All personal information collected is to be used for purposes of the study and is subject to the limitations in the Information Practices Act and state policy. Driving activity captured will include location, speed/acceleration, braking/stopping, and turning/swerving.

Will it be collecting video or audio?

No, audio and video are not collected. The app does not request audio or video permissions from the participant.

How does DMV plan to use the data collected?

DMV will conduct a comparison study to assist with exploring alternative options to scheduling and successfully passing a driving test with the DMV for a noncommercial instruction permit holder and the safety impact of allowing the driving test requirement to be fulfilled through alternative methods.

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

DMV has worked with the app developer to specify what data is necessary to collect, which will be accessible by individuals authorized by DMV only. Data will not be shared with insurance companies, law enforcement, or participants’ parent/legal guardian. DMV’s Information Security and Disclosure Statement

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

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 for purposes other than their intended purpose of driver evaluation?

DMV is following the same guidelines and regulations that protect other personal data collected by 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 the data type.

Is the data collected by the app going to be linked to my name or other phone data?

Yes, to your name only, no other phone data is linked. The information collected through the app during the study will be used by DMV researchers and not be considered to determine your qualification for a driver’s license.

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

No, participation is voluntary. The app will collect data related to driving behavior to be used in the DMV study and plays no role in obtaining a driver’s license.

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

While participating is voluntary, the DMV TestBuddy app is required to participate. Those without a smartphone will not be able to participate.

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

Participation in the study is voluntary. The DMV TestBuddy app is required to participate, those without the app will not be able to participate.

Will declining to use the app create additional barriers to licensure?

No. The app will collect data related to driving behavior of those who choose to participate, for study purposes only and plays no role in obtaining a driver’s license.

Is there any way that using the app can create additional barriers to licensure?

No. Data collected will be used by DMV for the purposes of the comparison study only.

What if I score poorly?

There is no consequence if the participant’s data reflects poor driving behavior. 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 collected will be compared to other participants’ driving in the same area or road type/condition.

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 that can be collected by the app will be used for the comparison study and the type of data collected will be the same for all participants.

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

No. The data is collected for the comparison study and will not play a role in determining eligibility to be licensed.

Is the data collected by the app going to be linked to my driver’s record?


Could I incur citations or fines as a result of driving behavior collected on the app, even if I was never pulled over by an officer?