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How About an App to Prevent Distracted Driving?


After a recent accident which meant I had to <a href=”http://www.arc-rite.co.uk/paints/automotive”>order car paint online for fast free delivery</a>,  I began tothink of ways the accident could have been prevented.

Let us say Sarah works for a large, nationally-recognized retail chain. She spends a lot of time on the road and is constantly on the phone with clients, friends, family and associates. Sarah finds that because of her busy schedule, the best time to call people is just as she is getting in her car, on the way to the next appointment.

As Sarah starts her company car, the urge is very strong to pick up her BlackBerry® smartphone. But as soon as she starts the car a software application installed on her phone automatically activates and prevents her from texting, e-mailing or browsing while driving.

The new commercially-available product described above is called “MobileSafer”, manufactured by ZoomSafer who has been making products to limit distracted driving for enterprise and government customers since January 2009.
To date, ZoomSafer commercial products are proving very beneficial at promoting driver safety and limiting liability. The natural progression of technology is for cell phone and car manufacturers to make available complimentary distracted driving prevention systems for the consumer market.

ZoomSafer Sets the Standard for Future Integrated Driver Safety Solutions
What makes ZoomSafer products so beneficial is that ZoomSafer is a technology-based software solution, which, at minimal cost, can be integrated into any one of the many different OEM installed and aftermarket Bluetooth/GPS-based telematics systems available. Service providers for these systems include Ford Motors (Ford Synch), Mercedes (mbrace), GM (OnStar) and Garmin (Garmin GPS systems). Aftermarket bluetooth accessories are also available from companies such as Parrot, Blue Ant, and others.

ZoomSafer can be configured to trigger – launch into safe driving mode – using either GPS telematics (from vendors including Inthinc, Skyguard, Network Fleet, etc…), in-vehicle, Bluetooth accessories and systems (as described above), or phone-based GPS triggers to activate safe driving mode that prevents texting, e-mailing, or browsing while driving. This “plug n play” capability is one of its greatest assets. The Bluetooth-based trigger affords ZoomSafer its greatest flexibility, permitting usage with the greatest number of different systems.
In commercial fleet management systems, ZoomSafer can be deployed in client-server mode for centralized administrative control and safety data collection. Administrators can also deploy and manage the ZoomSafer software through the centralized BlackBerry® Enterprise Server.

Administrators can configure policy trigger settings (using one of the triggers above) and device usage permissions for specific groups of users and can similarly track cell-phone usage and compliance reporting on an individual or group basis.

The Danger Starts as Soon as the Key is Turned

Statistics gathered by the NHTSA (National Highway, Transportation and Safety Administration) for 2008 and 2009 clearly indicate that state laws which prohibit texting or calling while driving are having very little impact on preventing injuries and deaths from distracted driving. For both 2008 and 2009 close to 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries occurred per year. This fact is the primary reason that a widely available system like ZoomSafer is badly needed in the consumer car market.

Link and Smith P.C. is an Atlanta, GA personal injury law firm that specializes in representing clients that have been injured in distracted driving accidents. As a public service, Link &amp; Smith P.C. posts one of the most accurate and up-to-date distracted driving statistics web-sites available.

Link &amp; Smith P.C. reissued corrected findings for a 2007 AAA/Teen Magazine study which indicates more than ½ of teens surveyed admit to risky driving and 46% admit to texting while driving. A University of Utah Study indicates distracted driving reaction time is just as poor as driving under the influence.

Comprehensive Solutions to Prevent Distracted Driving may not be Available for Several Years, but Short-term Alternatives are Possible.

Advanced telematics car systems are currently available only on certain select models by subscription. That may soon change as OEM’s are planning business models for telematics technology to go mainstream and become widely available on more models without subscription as is indicated by recent developments recently announced at the Insurance Telematics USA Annual Conference.

There are several advantages to having an integrated GPS telematics on-board system: One is that distracted driving prevention can be marketed to a greater number of users and be uniformly applied. Additionally, whereas commercial applications may be useful for data mining and safety compliance reporting, similar centrally-managed systems can be used to gather data for product development and system improvements.

Nevertheless, it is not absolutely necessary for advanced GPS-based telematics to become commonplace before both cell phone and car manufacturers start seriously working together to prevent distracted driving. I briefly interviewed Matt Howard CEO of ZoomSafer on this point.

Question. Mr. Howard…Is it realistic to assume that with telematics becoming more advanced and with a general move in the telematics and car manufacturing industries to make telematics widely available, that a system like ZoomSafer will soon become available on the general car market?

Answer. “…Even without telematics, we expect auto and handset manufacturers will evolve toward some type of policy standard designed to promote hands-free use of phones via HMI systems. That said, we believe that OEM’s will drive telematics further into the consumer vehicle market which will expand the market for innovative policy/analytics solutions like ZoomSafer.”