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DISTRACTED DRIVING: Can a device protect my teen from texting and driving?

3 comments

We have all seen the pictures.  Everyone knows of the dangers of texting and driving, yet the message doesn’t seem to be sinking in.  In 2011 alone, 3,331 people were killed in car accidents involving distracted drivers and an additional 387,000 others were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Even though distracted driving encompasses different types of distractions, from applying makeup to fiddling to the radio to talking to passengers in the car, texting is especially dangerous.  Teens, especially believe that sending a quick text is safer than talking on the phone and a quick Facebook update is really “no big deal”.  Studies have shown that three things actually happy when a driver is distracted, even for a second.  It removes the mind from driving, removes your hands from the wheel and removes your eyes from the road.

Talking about it isn’t enough.  Teens are being asked to make the commitment to not text and drive and, in fact, avoid distracted driving altogether, and to honor that commitment.  However, it is not always as easy as making a promise and keeping it.  Some teenagers are taking the commitment one step further and shutting off their phones in the car.  But what about those who find this a difficult commitment to make?  Others have downloaded apps to their phones which disable a smart phone while driving.  Esurance has developed a device called DriveSafe for its customers.

DriveSafe is a device that can be inserted into the onboard diagnostics port of any non-hybrid/electric car made after 1996.  The device communicates via Bluetooth with the Esurance smartphone app and allows parents to fine-tune what their kids’ phones can do.  They can disable texting, limit cell phone use, with the exception of the ability to dial 911, and even track how a teen drives, including how fast they went, how quickly they accelerated, how hard they braked and where they went.  Basically giving full parental oversight to a teen’s driving habits.  If a teen tries to remove the device from the car, the parents receive notification.  If you are not an Esurance customer, there is a device called Cellcontrol which has many of the same features.

Will this curb the trend towards texting and driving in teenagers?  It has the potential to make a serious difference in the statistics.  If you have a teenager who drives, or know someone who does, please make sure they are aware that devices do exist to help protect their teen from the dangers of distracted driving.

3 Comments

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  1. Erik Wood says:
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    The majority of smartphone users do not want their hardware locked down or monitored. I think real change on this issue is going to come from the end user – the delivery man, the car pooling mom, or the teen driver deciding to change their habits. From truckers to moms to teens that I spoke with on the issue of text and drive – there was one common thread. If presented with a Big Brother type lock down alternative, they will immediately seek “to get around it”. This does not constitute change on our highways. Selling expensive software with recurring fees that is supposed to lock down the activity forgets that it is the end user (the driver) who will ultimately decide. Let’s change behavior and we will see those violent crash rates plummet…now.

    I decided to do something about distracted driving after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user, I built a texting asset called OTTER that is a simple and intuitive GPS based, texting auto reply app for smartphones. While driving, OTTER silences those distracting call ringtones and chimes unless a bluetooth is enabled. The texting auto reply allows anyone to schedule a ‘texting blackout period’ in any situation like a meeting or a lecture without feeling disconnected. This software is a social messaging tool for the end user that also empowers this same individual to be a sustainably safer driver.

    Erik Wood, owner
    OTTER apps (Since 2010. Free)

  2. David S. says:
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    Very good and timely story about distracted driving. Esurance’s DriveSafe product is in fact from Cellcontrol. That’s why the product’s are similar because they are indeed the same technology. Esurance OEM’s the tech from Cellcontrol.

  3. Lee Free says:
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    These measures would work if teens are not teens. They will figure out the way to avoid them for sure. In first example they can easily turn off bluetooth on their cellphones.
    I was thinking about this problem for many years and came up with an idea but it is too futuristic. Steering wheel must be held with both hands, the cars are automatic, all the controls are on the steering wheel, music, windows, gearbox, something like the formula 1 bolids. If only one hand is holding the steering wheel, the car automatically reduces speed. But as I said, too futuristic.