Turning Off the Power—Using Technology to Combat Distracted Driving
We’ve all seen the PSAs about texting and driving and the peril we put ourselves and others on the road in when we look away to read a text or email or take our hands off the wheel to respond. Distracted driving is now the leading cause of car accident deaths for teenage drivers (nearly 20 percent of all teen accidents are caused by texting and driving), replacing drunk driving.
The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that cell phones are involved in 1.6 million car accidents every year, causing half a million injuries and killing over 6,000 drivers and passengers.
To combat driving distractions, parents, schools and legislators have led anti-texting and driving crusades in high schools and driver’s ed classes, driving the point home to teens—the worst offenders of distracted driving—through gruesome crash videos, testimony from those who have been injured in or have lost loved ones in accidents caused by texting and driving and other dramatic methods, all of which were intended to scare drivers into doing the right thing and putting their phones away while they travel.
While these measures have had some success, it’s not enough, Denver auto accident attorneys say, and distracted driving casualties and injuries continue to happen. Now, one Colorado company is taking the initiative to try another approach—shutting down the distraction altogether.
For the past five years, Scott Tibbitts, a chemical engineer who developed motors for NASA, has dedicated himself and his new company, Katasi, to the production of a device that can monitor a person’s cell phone usage, determine when the phone is in a moving vehicle and deactivate the device for the duration of travel. The device is called Groove, and it works by plugging into an OBD2 port (found under the steering wheels of most cars manufactured after 1996) and connecting cars to the internet.
Anyone who drives in a vehicle with Groove plugged in needs to register his or her phone with Groove in order to tap into the device’s features. Once the car is started, Groove will determine who is driving and will contact the phone carrier for that person’s cell phone. The carrier then blocks all incoming messages and distracting communications on that person’s phone until the car stops moving. Messages reappear on the driver’s phone when the car has been turned off.
Tibbitts developed the idea for Groove after the death of Dave Sueper in 2008. Sueper was killed on his way to a meeting with Tibbitts after a distracted teenager blew a red light and hit his car. Tibbitts wanted to find a way to keep teens and other drivers from giving in to distractions and potentially harming others in their path.
Groove’s technology pairs with mobile phone carriers in order to work. Katasi reports that currently, plans are in place for two U.S. carriers to implement Groove this coming year, but Tibbitts is aiming higher. “Our goal is to have every carrier on board with Groove, providing the capability to limit distractions before they get to the phone when a subscriber is driving.” Eliminating distractions for drivers will be critical to keeping the roads safe for all drivers, auto accident lawyers say. Hopefully, Groove will be the next step in working towards that goal.
At Levine Law, Jordan Levine represents clients who have been injured or who have lost loved ones in a distracted driving accident. For more information, call him today.