This Gadget Stops Distracted Driving

Texting Driving

Distracted driving takes place when a driver partakes in other activities, which deviates his/her attention from the road while the vehicle is in motion. Driving while distracted greatly increases the chances of a crash, making the distracted driver a danger to himself and other motorists.

Distracted driving is often the result of texting and/or talking on the phone, both of which take the driver’s eyes and mind off the task of driving. Texting is the worst offense when it comes to distracted driving because it involves three of the main types of distractions:

  • Visual: The driver doesn’t look at the road when texting.
  • Manual: The driver’s hands are not placed on the wheel because he/she is texting on their phone.
  • Cognitive: The driver’s mind is deviated from driving, which means he/she is less attentive to other motorists and pedestrians on the road.

According to 2013 statistics, 8 people are killed and 1,161 people are injured due to a distracted driver every day in the United States. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

Help May Be at Hand

For over five years, Scott Tibbitts has been trying to showcase his creations to cell phone providers, the government and car manufacturers. The device, called Groove, aims to combat distracted driving and can be easily plugged into a port on a car’s steering wheel.

How Does Groove Stop Distracted Driving?

The size of a thumb drive, this powerful device can sync with the driver’s phone instantly using cloud connectivity and blocks incoming texts, along with other distractions as soon as the car exceeds the speed of 5 mph.

The device stops blocking incoming messages approximately ten seconds after the car halts. The device does not have connectivity issues because it is plugged directly into the On Board Diagnostics 2 system which is a standard component found in all US cars manufactured after 1966.

Once the device syncs with the car, as soon as the engine is started a wireless message is sent out to the device company’s servers which then shut down Internet access to the driver’s phone. Only the phone’s navigation systems and music can get through the blocking device, which makes the driver’s phone switch to ‘super airplane mode.’ However, even this mode can be turned off through customization of the product. The device is compatible with any phone model.

What Response Has Groove Received?

Although most mobile phone providers that Tibbitts spoke with were interested in the device’s ability to stop incoming texts, calls and other distractions, they were reluctant to implement the technology. In fact, when mobile phones were first created, they targeted drivers because they spend a lot of time talking in cars on their phones, which benefitted telecommunications companies that sold talk-time by the minute.

After developing Groove in 2009, Tibbitts approached various members of society to implement this technology in cars. Unfortunately, he was only met with vague responses. Members of Congress showed interest, but said it would be better to convince mobile phone providers to use it instead of relying on legislation.

Paul Atchley, Professor of Psychology at the University of Kansas, studies compulsive texting by drivers. Citing the nature of human psychology, he claims that awareness by itself is not enough to stop this behaviour. The phone has a powerful lure and simply being aware of the risks involved in distracted driving is not enough to stop it altogether.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was also enthusiastic about the technology, but repeated what government officials had said.

Challenges of developing This Platform

Although Groove is a technology with plenty of potential to save lives, there are legal implications which make interested parties hesitant to come on board. Legal uncertainty, to be exact, is a major issue. If, for example, a single text message or email were to slip through and reach the driver while driving, despite the technology being in place, and an accident were to take place, who will be held responsible? It’s a risk no company wants to take. This was the reasoning given by telecommunications company Sprint when they backed out of making a deal with Groove.

Currently, several wireless providers turn the driver’s phone into silent mode and send an auto reply to incoming callers. Several free apps offered by major telecommunications companies can prevent the driver from texting, but don’t always cut access to social networking websites.

Another aspect of safe driving relates to the regular maintenance of your car. Servicing all the different parts of the car, including the electronic components will keep your car in the best condition. Further, your car’s battery also needs to be in good working condition. Have a professional take a look at your car battery and ensure that its components are cleaned. The male and the female header connectors, which commonly form part of a car battery, should also be inspected for debris and damage. Periodic replacement of automobile parts should be done from authentic and reliable sources like to maintain highest standard of safety and ensure your car stays in the best of condition.

Final Thoughts

Despite the awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, it continues to be a major cause of death and injury on roads. Sometimes, the law is not enough to deter drivers from looking at their phone when driving and this is where Groove hopes to make a massive difference. By shutting down the phone’s ability to receive texts, calls and other distraction while on the move, this device has the potential to make a positive impact on road safety.

Rachel Oliver is a freelancer who has a way with words. She likes to write about anything and everything under the sun, but themes like technology, electronics & gadgets, sports, construction and maintenance interests her more. You can follow her through the buttons below.

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