April 10, 2013—Auto insurance company Esurance has developed new technology to help prevent distracted driving among teenage drivers.
Esurance said traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for American teens. The company said 3,331 people were killed, and an additional 387,000 people were injured, in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011.
Esurance’s distracted driving technology is able to block mobile phone calls, texts, emails, Internet access and other smartphone applications while a car is in motion to limit mobile device activity and keep drivers focused on the road.
The technology requires customers to download a free smartphone app and plug a small device into their vehicle’s on-board diagnostics (OBD) port. Users are then able to enter the settings for as many mobile devices they want to control, including smartphones, laptops and tablets. Using non-pairing Bluetooth technology from Cellcontrol, the device is engaged when a car is in motion and remains active until the car is completely stopped.
Esurance said parents are able to receive email notifications if a teen driver attempts to disable or remove the device, delete the smartphone app, or turn off the Bluetooth functionality.
The device is compatible with most Android, Blackberry and Windows smartphones. iPhone compatibility will be available soon.
“Distracted driving of all kinds is a critical problem,” said Robert Passmore, senior director of personal lines policy for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). “This is a great example of how our members have led the way on auto safety issues. PCI has long supported efforts to promote awareness of the issue and technology is one tool that people can use to protect themselves, their passengers and fellow motorists from the hazards of distracted driving.”