DOWNEY (CBSLA) — Driving in Los Angeles can be difficult — with all of its traffic and distractions — but a Downey woman managed to do it this summer without breaking any traffic laws to be named the safest driver in L.A.

Deborra Sarei, 46, was one of 11,500 competitors in an eight-week contest put on by the city and USAA in an effort to reduce distracted driving on city streets.

“It was tough,” Sarei said. “It wasn’t easy. It was a long marathon, just not physical. It was mental, and it was a little stressful.”

The busy mother of four drives her two youngest children to school every day — a 20-mile round trip commute on the 105 and 605 freeways — along with running routine errands. All the while, a phone app tracked her every move — break, acceleration and turn.

“I thought I was a pretty decent driver until the app told me otherwise,” Sarei said. “I learned that I was breaking too hard, that I was accelerating too fast, my turns were too acute.”

But driving on the freeway was an entirely different challenge.

“There were drivers that were trying to push me along, honking, going around me, and yes they were speeding,” she said. “And I started saying, to calm myself down and start being patient, ‘Oh, I guess you’re not going to be L.A.’s safest driver.”

To avoid the temptation to speed, she said she had to learn to leave earlier — hard for a single person, even harder with children — but she said her children got on board.

Sarei competed against 11,500 other drivers for the title, but managed to beat them all.

“I didn’t know whether to cry, shout,” Sarei said. “I actually had to ask the lady to repeat the whole thing again just to make sure that I heard that I was L.A’s safest driver winner.”

Sarei won $20,000 for her efforts, but said that beyond the money, she has noticed other positive changes as a result of her new driving habits including using less gas.

“If people had an app that dinged them on what they were doing wrong and slow them down, I think that we would all be safer,” she said.


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