New Gadget Blocks Phone Calls Using Vehicle Being Driven

Law Firm Newswire



Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) December 12, 2014 – New technology may save the lives of those who cannot seem to stop texting while driving.

“People know they should not text and drive, but they do it anyway. In response to this inability to stop doing something that could kill them and others, there is yet another gadget that has been designed to halt calls dead in their tracks,” said Bobby Lee, an Austin personal injury attorney who handles distracted driving cases. This latest device takes temptation out of the hands of an addicted driver and blocks incoming and outgoing messages from ever reaching the driver. Created by a chemical engineer, Scott Tibbitts, the device may have promise.

Five years went into its design and creation phases. The gadget was born after a fatal accident involving a business executive that Tibbitts was to meet to discuss his inventions. The man was killed on his way to the meeting by a teen texting while driving.

It was the perfect challenge for an entrepreneur looking for a project to launch. “The biggest difficulty was knowing when a person was driving a vehicle in order to shut their phone down. It was an engineering conundrum. He did not want to use GPS for various reasons, citing inaccuracy, the ability to override the service and shorter battery life,” Lee explained.

Tibbitts partnered with American Family Insurance and Sprint Nextel to get his device heavy-duty attention and scrutiny. Sprint’s involvement represents a first for an American telco and is a feather in his cap, with the network allowing him to use his device to stop texts.

At one time, most companies promoted talking as much as possible to make money. With the drastic increase in deaths attributed to texting while driving, communications companies are no longer promoting talk time. They are now solidly behind movements to control distracted driving.

The solution to completely shutting down a smartphone while the driver is actually in the vehicle lies with telematics – a blend of mobility and telecommunications. There is a port under the steering column, referred to as the OBD 2, which has been built into vehicles since 1996. Insurance companies use it to assess driver behavior to set premiums. It has so much potential that Ernst & Young predicted that roughly 88 percent of newer vehicles are likely to be connected to the internet through it by 2025.

In simplified terms, the black box sends a signal that the vehicle is moving. Smartphones also send out messages about their location. Those two signals are sent to a server with a system capable of blocking calls, email and other data. There are no apps to download. Just get in the car and start driving, and all communications to a phone cease. “There are other options available depending on the circumstances,” added Lee. “For the most part, this technology has a bright future.”

This technology may well promise future help, but for now, legal issues relating to its use have stalled forward momentum. Questions like, “Who would be responsible for a text that may slip through the block?” haunt potential investors. Additionally, the core issue still really lies with people and their technology habits. This technology will work only if it is used.

To learn more, visit Lee, Gober & Reyna 11940 Jollyville Road #220-S Austin, Texas 78759 Phone: 512.478.8080
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