Morgan County Citizen – New Technology Aids Caleb’s Law

By: Michael Prochaska Staff Writer Three years after the State of Georgia declared a ban on texting while driving, new technology aids in enforcing the law. A new device called Cellcontrol affectively restricts texting and other hands-on applications while driving. It works like this: After an app is downloaded to the user’s smart phone, the device is plugged into the OBD-II diagnostics port for cars made after 1996. It restricts texting, Web browsing, e-mail and other functions based on vehicle movement. The phone is still able to dial 911 for emergencies. If the driver unplugs the device, a third party, such as a parent, receives an e-mail alert. The device costs $129 and has no monthly charge. Under Caleb’s Law, improperly using a media device carries a fine. The state’s ban on texting is named after Caleb Sorohan, a Morgan County teen who died while texting in a car in 2009. His mother, Mandi Sorohan, met with WSB-TV consumer investigator Jim Strickland last week to learn more about a product that she said could have saved her son’s life. “It might make some teenagers mad,” she said. “But I’d rather have my teenager mad than dead.” Sorohan said she had heard of technology that provided a safety net for those who ignore the law, but that she had not seen a product until recently.  “I think it’s a good thing to have,” she said. “Teenagers just don’t think it’s (a car wreck) going to happen to them.” Sorohan said the new technology opens up a slate of possibilities for insurance companies. She said she heard of cases where insurance companies give a discount for people who use Cellcontrol or a similar device in their car. But because the technology is new, compatibility and distribution are two areas in which the company of the same name is working on improving. Cellcontrol currently works with smartphones such as an Android or BlackBerry, but the iPhone is still pending, according to Cellcontrol’s Web site. According to a representative from Cellcontrol, the company has contracted to sell the device through Verizon stores. Madison’s Verizon store, however, does not yet carry it. Stephen Saylor, Verizon manager, said he would add Cellcontrol to the store’s inventory if the company reached out to him. “It’s worth a life, honestly,” he said. “It’s something you definitely need,” said Kimberly Fuller, a sales representative at an AT&T store in Madison. Though Cellcontrol does not yet work with the iPhone, Fuller said AT&T stores offer a variety of hands-free devices. Morgan County Sheriff Robert Markley said that although texting while driving receives the most media attention, multitasking in a vehicle is just as dangerous. Markley said he encourages drivers to put away their phones and GPS devices once they start the ignition. “I think that’s the kind of thing (Cellcontrol) they’re going to have to put out there, because people are so attached to their phones,” he said. “We’ve seen texting while driving as a growing problem. I don’t think just the law is enough of a deterrent to keep people from doing it.” While Cellcontrol has the benefits of parental oversight for teenagers, Sorohan said it could benefit adults as well. “The biggest advice I would give to parents is to lead by example,” she said “When you get in the car, you put your phone away.” The article can be found at: http://www.morgancountycitizen.com/?q=node/20436  

Device aims to keep teen drivers from texting behind the wheel – vcstar.com

Summry of an article  written by Rachel  McGrath Ventura  County Star Posted June 8, 2012  at 5:25 p.m Cellcontrol, a Louisiana company, has designed a technology to stop distraced drivng.  While having success with commercial fleets, Cellcontrol has partnered with Scosche, an Oxnard, California company, to move into the consumer market.  Scosche’s Safe Driving System powered by Cellcontrol, is available for Andoid and BlackBerry phones.   This solution, when in use, disables text messaging, internet acess, and incoming and outgoing calls. Scosche’s interface product manager, Ted Lopez, stated that while other solutions are out there,  Cellcontrol is unique because it is fully functional out of the box.  With Cellcontrol, there is no need to pair it with a Bluetooth device. Mr. Lopez stated, also, “There’s no way around for a parent not to know it’s being tampered with.” To read the complete article and see what the California Office of Traffic Safety statistics say, as well as what patrol and local law enforcement agencies are seeing, visit:  http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/jun/08/device-aims-to-keep-teen-drivers-from-texting/  

Device Keeps People From Texting and Driving – WSB-TV Atlanta

ATLANTA —
Mandi Sorohan arrived at a rest stop in Morgan County in a van carrying a bump sticker which serves as a remembrance and a warning for anyone driving near her. The sticker demands drivers not to text behind the wheel. It carries the name of her 18- year-old son, Caleb, who crashed and died while texting in 2009. The state’s ban of texting is called Caleb’s law. Sorohan agreed to meet consumer investigator Jim Strickland. She wanted to see a device he brought called the Cellcontrol. “This is awesome. You can guarantee your kids are not going to be doing this while they’re driving,” said Sorohan. Strickland showed Sorohan video he had shot earlier with the vice president of Cellcontrol, Chuck Cox. Cox plugged the device into the same socket where they read a car’s emissions. “Teenagers, even parents, won’t be able to text and drive,” Cox said as he installed the device. As Strickland drove, Cox was in the passenger seat. Whenever the car was moving, texting stopped dead. A warning screen appeared on his smartphone. The user decides which phones get disabled and can even control which numbers the phone will voice call. The phone is always able to call 911. If anyone unplugs it, the controlling user gets an email alert. “We lose about 6,000 (people) a year to distracted driving and 450,000 accidents. It’s a big problem,” said Cox. Cox explained the user must register the device via the web, then download an app to each phone to be controlled. Most major smartphones are compatible, but a certification for iPhone is still weeks away. Cox said the laws against texting and driving have had an unintended backfire. “People, when it wasn’t illegal, would be texting and driving near the steering wheel. Now that it’s illegal they drop it to their lap. As a consequence it’s even more dangerous,” Cox said. Sorohan said police are also not enthused about enforcement because pulling texting records to make a case is a painstaking process. She said parents can use the device in concert with setting a good example at home. “They need to put their phone away as soon as they get in the car. That needs to the rule,” Sorohan said. To see the story, visit WSB-TV’s site: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/device-keeps-people-texting-and-driving/nPGGr/

Ask Asa: Teens And Texting – WCBS – NY

Thu, May 17, 2012 – CBS 2 New York CBS 2′s Asa Aarons with the latest innovations to keep track of your teen driver. http://news.yahoo.com/video/newyorkcbs2-15751042/ask-asa-teens-and-texting-29334904.html

Some New Gadgets On The Market

By Deborah Porterfield – USA TODAY This weekly roundup takes a look at the practical and sometimes quirky aspects of tech products.
Device blocks texting in the car Worried about your teen driver texting while driving? With cellControl, you can go beyond the usual safety lectures. The Bluetooth device, which can be plugged into a car’s on-board diagnostic system, keeps drivers from texting, e-mailing or making phone calls while the car is moving. If someone tries to remove or deactivate the device, it can be programmed to e-mail or text you. The device from Scosche costs about $130. www.scosche.com For the complete article, go to: http://www.dailycomet.com/article/20120524/WIRE/120529845/1008?Title=Some-new-gadgets-on-the-market

New apps helping parents combat teen texting and driving – Fox 31 Denver

Story by Kim Posey LONE TREE, Colo. – Max Rubin just got his driver’s license a few weeks ago. He’s enjoying his new freedom and trying to limit his distractions, like his cell phone and text messages. “It’s really tempting to see what (the message) about or who it’s from, but you can wait five minutes to pick it up or you can risk hurting somebody or yourself by looking at it,” Max said. Under Colorado law, drivers under 18 are not allowed to talk on the phone, and texting is illegal for everyone.  But it happens, sometimes with deadly consequences. But now there is a way to fight technology, with technology.  A wide variety of new smart phone apps are available which lock your phone while you are driving so you can’t text, call, email, surf the web or update your Facebook page. Michelle Rubin, Max’s mom, is considering one of the apps for Max and agreed to test one for us. “I think every parent needs to consider it for a young driver,” Michelle told us. The family installed a Cellcontrol transmitter on their car, and installed the cell control app on Max’s phone.  When the car is in motion, the phone becomes disabled. “It won’t let me do anything,” Max said. Incoming texts don’t appear. Calls go straight to voicemail, and Max’s driving is uninterrupted. Drivers are able to make emergency calls and they can customize the plan to allow for things like music. “It’s definitely a good idea,” Max said. There are several other apps that don’t require a transmitter on your car.  Instead, they rely on the GPS in your phone to calculate your speed while you are driving. At a certain speed, the phone shuts down. People using the txtBlocker app will see a certain screen while driving. Callers receive a message that says “Hi- Thanks for the Call.  I’m driving or in an area where mobile use isn’t allowed.  Get back to you as soon as possible.” Unfortunately, some users complain apps which rely on the phone’s GPS run down the battery on the phone.  Plus those apps can only tell when you are moving, not when you are driving, so they shut down the phone even when you are a passenger in a car, bus or light rail. The Rubins are weighing their options. “I think as a parent you’re obligated to at least consider doing something,” Michelle said. Some of the available apps include txtBlocker, CellSafety, iZup, Zoomsafer, and Cell Control.  Most have monthly fees.  You can check to see which ones will work on your phone.  To see the video/story go to: http://kdvr.com/2012/05/09/new-apps-helping-parents-combat-teen-texting-and-driving/

“My Kid Would Never Do That: Driving” – Dateline NBC

Think YOUR kids would never use their cellphone while driving?  So did these parents! Their teens drove, distracted, even KNOWING that they had DriveCam watching them! Take a few minutes to watch Dateline NBC’s powerful story – “My Kid Would Never Do That: Driving”!!!! http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/my-kid-would-never-driving-part-1/6peg8zf http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/my-kid-would-never-driving-part-2/6buc8t8    

“OUR VIEW: Texting and Driving: It’s Dangerous and It’s Illegal” – Starpress.com

Here’s a sobering statistic: At 55 miles per hour, a car travels the length of a football field in a little less than 5 seconds. That’s also the same time it takes to read a text message, according to government statistics. You know where this is going. That’s like driving blind for nearly 5 seconds at high speed. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports cell phone use was a factor in 18 percent of distraction-related fatalities. And yet, that’s what too many of us are doing when we get behind the wheel, despite laws banning drivers from texting. The message isn’t getting through, perhaps because almost no one gets caught. In Indiana, a police officer has to see you text and drive, which is almost impossible to determine. That driver holding a cell phone might be dialing it, checking a map or playing a song. But if you are caught, the fine can be $500. So the law as it’s written now is nearly useless, and the number of people ignoring it, especially teens, is downright scary. A survey conducted by State Farm Harris Interactive found only 43 percent of drivers ages 16-17 say they have never texted while driving. Is it any wonder that whenever an accident occurs, investigators must determine whether a cell phone was in use? That’s not to pick on young drivers. Adults are guilty, too. What can be done? A public relations and education campaigns stressing the dangers of driving while distracted could help, especially if it’s modeled after the campaigns of the 1990s that called attention of driving while impaired. So-called “top of mind” campaigns make people aware of the issues and get them to talk about them. Such a campaign must stress that if you cause an accident, you can be held liable — and expect to be held accountable for your actions. The current law is ineffective and practically unenforceable. Perhaps a better approach would be to punish drivers more severely for distracted driving, whether the cause is cellphone use or other actions taken by the driver. That will prove challenging. Finally, technology that provided us with these distractions might also solve the problem. A company called Cellcontrol of Baton Rouge, La., is developing technology to have cellphones receive vehicle operating data via a non-paired Bluetooth signal. The device can automatically block texting, emailing and phone usage except in emergencies. The company also makes apps to allow parents to monitor phone use of teens when they drive. In the meantime, until technology provides a solution, exercise some personal restraint and responsibility: Don’t text and drive. See the Story Online at: http://www.thestarpress.com/article/20120420/OPINION01/204200316

Tech To Prevent Driver Distraction – Connected World Magazine

Tech to Prevent Driver Distraction 4/12/2012   By now, you’re aware that it’s National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and that distracted driving is indeed a problem. But in addition to spreading the word about the dangers of irresponsibly using devices while behind the wheel, what can really be done to make a difference? Bans? Not likely. Higher fines and steeper penalties? Maybe. How about using technology? It may seem contradictory to develop technologies that help keep us safe behind the wheel, when many believe technology being used in vehicles is to blame for the increase in distracted-driving-related incidents during the past few years. However, a number of technology-solution providers aim to offer the tools the public needs to act responsibly, while also acknowledging the permanence of devices and technology in today’s society. In some cases, smartphone applications use a phone’s accelerometer to determine when a vehicle is in motion, then disable several functions of the driver’s device that can create distraction—such as text messaging. Other solutions, such as the technology by Cellcontrol, www.cellcontrol.com, actually rely on a hardware device plugged into a vehicle’s OBD port. Cellcontrol recently released a solution that prevents texting, emailing, Web browsing, and phone usage in Class A vehicles such as heavy trucks, buses, and other large vehicles. The technology communicates with a vehicle’s onboard computer to determine when a vehicle is moving, then blocks the use of a mobile device based on a company’s distracted-driving policy. Emergency 911 calls are the exception. Interestingly, the company says its solution uses a patent-pending non-pairing Bluetooth signal to transmit vehicle operating data to the phone and immediately initiate blocking when driving. Cellcontrol’s technology can report on other safety metrics such as driver speed and hard-braking events, as well as efficiency metrics such as mileage and idle times for companies looking for a well-rounded approach to preventing distracted driving. Other solutions with specific target markets in mind include a number of smartphone apps geared toward parents. iGuardianTeen, www.iguardianteen.com, is one such solution for teen drivers. iGuardianTeen provides parents with realtime driving feedback as their teens are out on the road. The company’s ultimate goal is to help parents keep a closer eye on their teen’s driving behavior while reducing the risk of an accident due to distraction or insufficient driving experience. The app automatically diverts incoming calls directly to voicemail while a vehicle is in motion. It mutes notifications such as rings, dings, and vibrations, so your teen is not even tempted to pick up the phone. (A Parental Emergency Contact feature is an exception.) Parents receive reports on any calls or texts sent from behind the wheel, in addition to realtime alerts when a teen has gone above a set speed limit or is braking harshly, which can indicate the driver is distracted. The technology can help keep teens accountable, teaching them life-long habits for responsible driving. During the month of April, The Peggy Smedley Show, www.peggysmedleyshow.com, an Internet talk radio show covering M2M technology and connected devices, will be covering distracted driving, not as an unsolvable problem, but as an issue that needs to be addressed through education and prevention. On April 17, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood will join the show to discuss the ways companies and individuals can work together to stand against distracted driving in all its forms. Tune in each Tuesday 12 p.m. CT during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month to learn more. This story can be found online at: http://www.connectedworldmag.com/latestNews.aspx?id=NEWS120411081952340  

GCN (Government Computer News) Lab Review – A Tool That Stops Texting While Driving In Its Tracks

GCN LAB REVIEWS By Greg Crowe Mar 23, 2012 It is an accepted truth — but one too often ignored — that using a handheld cell phone for any reason is one of the most dangerous things you can do while operating a motor vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that more than 5,000 people in the U.S. died due to distracted driving in 2009. Of those, 995 could be linked directly to cell phone use behind the wheel, and that does not count all the non-fatal accidents across the country. Recently many efforts have been made to try to limit this practice. Handheld cell phone use while driving has been outlawed in many states. Many government organizations such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have levied steep fines for violation of cell phone use regulations. But these measures will only go so far toward stopping the activity. The temptation of having near-instant information at your fingertips is too great for some people, even while they are driving. So, how could you make sure your policies on the matter are enforced and employees aren’t costing money (or worse) by skirting them? Cellcontrol, a flexible policy editor, can make vehicular cell phone policy automatically enforceable. It works for any Android or BlackBerry smart phone running Cellcontrol’s proprietary software. Cellcontrol Pros: Effective in locking out cell phone use. Cons: Setup requires a few extra steps. Performance: A- Ease of Use: B Features: A- Value: A-   For the Complete Review: http://gcn.com/Articles/2012/04/02/Review-Cellcontrol-stops-texting-while-driving.aspx?Page=1