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For Teens: Shut Up And Drive Technology Disables Cell Phones

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, November 05, 2008 1:16 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Teens, Teen Drivers, Cell Phones, Distracted Drivers, Automobile Safety,

Technology disables cell phones behind the wheel

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IMAGE SOURCE: iStock Photo/Driving & talking teen/ author: MSR photo

 

The new software is called DriveAssist from Aegis Mobility Inc., and it’s aimed at stopping teens from talking on the cell phone while driving.

The Aegis Mobility software blocks inbound calls and text messages when it determines that the cell phone is within a moving vehicle.

The technology evolved from personal tragedy.

Aegis was created with the help of Dave Teater. His son, Joe, 12, was killed when the vehicle he was riding in was rear-ended by a Hummer being driven by a 20-year-old nanny on the phone with her church. 

The Teater family, fighting personal grief and depression, decided that Joe’s death had to mean something.  Their painful story is told in the October issue of Mother Jones Magazine. 

In his quest following Joe’s death, Dave found research that said “inattention blindness” behind the wheel could result from cell phone use.  A pair of studies found the inattention was equal to a blood alcohol level of 0.08, which is legally drunk.

Teater found that major corporations such as ExxonMobil, DuPont, and Shell had banned on-road conversation by their employees.

Then Teater found that the National Highway Safety Administration in (NHTSA) had backed off on issuing a safety recommendation to hang up when you drive to prevent an annual toll of 42,000 U.S. deaths. A warning letter addressed to the nation’s 50 governors on behalf of Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, was never sent.

Mother Jones suggests the wireless industry’s $139 billion (in 2007) largess, might have had something to do with that.

Dave Teater took to the road speaking about driving safety and frequently hears from people who do hang up and drive.

“I love getting that stuff”, he says to Mother Jones, “It kind of tells me I’m on the right track.”

At the same time Teater, a former auto industry consultant, met Mandy Chen and John Geyer, who had worked in Silicon Valley’s technology industry and had shifted their interest to emerging cell phone technologies that address the distracted driver.  Together they created Aegis Mobility Inc., based in Vancouver, Canada.

Company CEO Dave Hattey tells IB News, “Our founders had seen the issue and were looking for solutions even before they met with Dave Teater. He joined the company and brought the company to a point of having enough enunciated vision and the technology to start getting the attention of the carriers.”

There is a wealth of research from a number of universities that point to impairment while driving and using a cell phone.  The latest NHTSA study reports up to 80 percent of motor vehicle crashes and near-crashes result from driver inattention. New York, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington and the District of Columbia require drivers to use a headset or hands-free device. 

But studies show that teens frequently ignore the bans, creating an opportunity for technology to take the place where free will doesn’t.

Once you are behind the wheel, DriveAssist determines motion and sends signals to the Aegis ContextEngine. After that all calls and text messages outbound are then mediated with the exception of 911 calls which are automatically accepted. Inbound calls are captured and returned to the user once you stop moving.  You can also set up a group of preferred callers who can break through to deliver an audio message to the driver, such as a parent.

Hattey says, “What we zeroed in on is a hybrid server approach that lets us move intelligence to the handset and keep the intelligence in the network, so it becomes a personal assistant while you drive.”  

Presently, DriveAssist supports Windows Mobile and Symbian-based phones but plans to expand to other wireless networks beginning in 2009. #


2 Comments

Posted by parenting teens
Monday, November 10, 2008 10:09 AM EST

I think this technology can be very useful. Kids need to focus on staying safe on the roads, not busy texting and chatting with there friends...we know there's plenty of time for that already. Interesting read.

Anonymous User
Posted by ballmerboy
Monday, November 17, 2008 9:23 AM EST

Marketing this device to parents of teens makes business sense, but let's not pretend it's teens who are the problem. It's mostly adults that I see behind the wheel yakking away and seemingly oblivious to what's goiung on in traffic around them.

Comments for this article are closed.

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