As Part of PURE Promise(TM), PURE Provides Services to Help Members, Youthful Drivers, Lower Risk of Distracted Driving

June 12, 2012, 10:00 a.m. EDT

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., June 12, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ —

Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE), the member-owned property/casualty insurer dedicated to serving the needs of responsible owners of high-value homes, today announced a plan to help members (policyholders) avoid losses related to distracted driving. As part of the PURE Promise, the insurer’s risk management philosophy, this new program is aimed at helping members lower their long-term cost of insurance by providing parents with resources to help young drivers in their household form smart, safe driving habits.

“The PURE Promise embodies PURE’s ongoing commitment to helping our members reduce their long-term cost of risk, by working to identify common causes of loss, then providing resources and investing in proven methods to mitigate against those risks,” said Martin Hartley, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of PURE. “As car accidents rank as the number one killer of teenagers in the U.S., and distracted driving contributes to more than 25% of all auto accidents, PURE is acting on our commitment by offering a number of tools geared at helping our members and their youthful drivers stay safe behind the wheel.”

Empowering Parents to Engage with Teens PURE’s Member Advice Center, accessible through, offers tips and advice for members, as well as a Parent/Teen Driver Agreement that outlines specific behavior that young drivers should engage in and refrain from while operating a vehicle. “Parents play a huge role in influencing the types of drivers their children become, and are the first line of defense when it comes to instilling safe habits in young drivers,” said Hartley. “Our goal is to facilitate constructive, educational conversations between our members and their young drivers about the real dangers they face as drivers and as passengers.”

Curbing the Urge to Call, Text, Email and Surf the Web In an effort to help members cut down on distracted driving, PURE’s Risk Management team has researched and road tested a number of products that aim to eliminate the use of a cell phone while driving, and is pleased to announce a partnership with Cellcontrol. As part of their efforts to contribute to the cost of preventing losses, PURE has offered Cellcontrol devices at a discounted rate to all members, and, to encourage parents to promote safe driving habits among their teens, has provided 100 drivers under the age of 18 with a complimentary device and full year’s subscription to Cellcontrol’s service. In keeping with the company’s commitment to reward responsibility and proactive loss prevention with savings and premium credits, PURE has also announced plans to introduce discounts for youthful drivers who use a cell phone-blocking device.

Hands-on Experience in a Controlled Environment PURE has also introduced a Young Driver Training Program, facilitated through a partnership with the BMW Performance Driving Center. Beginning in fall 2012, PURE members and their teen drivers will have the opportunity to visit the state-of-the-art driving course and enroll in the Center’s Teen School. There, from behind the wheel of a current model year BMW, drivers learn from and experience a range of driving conditions designed to simulate real-world situations, from panic stops to loss of tire grip during a wet skid. Certified instructors provide feedback to correct driving responses and better equip young drivers to face the challenges of the road.

About PURE For promotional purposes, PURE refers to the members of the PURE Group of Insurance Companies. PURE Group is rated “A-” (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company. Insurance coverage is underwritten through Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange, a Florida-domiciled reciprocal insurance exchange and member of the PURE Group. PURE provides coverage for high-value homes, automobiles, jewelry, art, personal liability and watercraft to more than 14,000 successful families in 35 markets across the U.S. and is committed to helping its members (policyholders) reduce the price of insurance today while controlling their long-term cost of risk. In return for a fee, PURE Risk Management, LLC acts as Attorney-in-Fact for PURE. For more information, visit

Interviews with PURE’s executives, agents and members may be coordinated. Copies of the A.M Best Company report are available here.

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 effectively 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.

Related news link:

WSB-TV 2 Atlanta – Device Keeps People from Texting and Driving

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

Summary 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 distracted driving.  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 Android and BlackBerry phones.

This solution, when in use, disables text messaging, internet access, 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:

Massachusetts Teen Convicted of Homicide in Texting-While-Driving Case – CNN Justice

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:11 AM EDT, Thu June 7, 2012

(CNN) — A Massachusetts teen was convicted Wednesday of homicide as a result of texting while driving and will serve one year in prison.

In a landmark case for the state, Aaron Deveau, 18, was found guilty on charges of vehicular homicide, texting while driving and negligent operation of a motor vehicle in a 2011 crash that fatally injured Donald Bowley, 55, of Danville, New Hampshire, and seriously injured a passenger in Bowley’s car.

“I made a mistake,” Deveau said Wednesday after his mother told the district court in Haverhill, Massachusetts he would not intentionally hurt anyone. “If I could take it back, I would take it back.”

Judge Stephen Abany sentenced the teen to two and a half years on the vehicular homicide charge and two years on the texting and causing injury charge. He will serve one year concurrently on both charges and the balance of both charges is suspended for five years. His license will be suspended for 15 years.

“There are no winners today,” Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said in a statement. “A beloved grandfather is dead. A once active woman can no longer work and is still racked with pain from her injuries and a young man is going to jail. When we get behind the wheel of a car, we are obligated to drive with care. … As we saw in this case, in a split second, many lives are forever changed.”

The risks of texting while driving

In the February 20, 2011, accident, prosecutors said, Deveau’s car crossed the center line on a street in Haverhill, which is in northeast Massachusetts near New Hampshire, and hit the vehicle Bowley was driving.

Bowley’s girlfriend, Luz Roman, 59, was in his car with him and suffered serious injuries.

Haverhill Detective Thomas Howell testified the impact left the two “almost folded into the floorboards.”

Bowley died March 10, 2011, after he was taken off life support.

“My brother received such head trauma that … there was no hope for him,” Bowley’s sister, Donna Burleigh, said in court.

Roman talked about the incident’s continued impact.

“Loss of sleeping, loss of my boyfriend. So many losses, I can’t tell you how many,” she told the judge.

Essex Assistant District Attorney Ashlee Logan argued that Deveau may have erased some of his texts or lied to police after the accident about when he was texting.

Deveau said after the crash in a taped interview with police, which was played in court, “I was tired. I was distracted. When I looked away for one quick second, I came too close to her and I was trying to hit my brakes.”

His defense lawyer said authorities set out from the beginning to link texting to the crash, a cause-and-effect relationship that he contends is not valid.

Some 38 states ban text messaging for all drivers, while 31 prohibit all cell phone use by “novice drivers,” according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.

2011: NTSB urges ban on use of phones while driving.

Visit CNN Justice for the story and the associated videos:

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

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.

For the complete article, go to:

Washington Post – Employees use of cellphones while driving becomes a liability for companies

By , Published: May 20

One was a lumber salesman who crippled a 78-year-old woman. Another was driving a toy company’s van when he killed a college sophomore. When a cable company guy rammed a stopped car at 71 mph, a woman and her mother died. A driver in a com­pany car didn’t react when traffic slowed, rear-ending a Honda in a chain-reaction crash that killed a 32-year-old woman.

All four drivers were using their cellphones. At a time when the National Safety Council estimates that about one-quarter of all crashes involve cellphones or texting — about 1.2 million accidents a year — these four crashes had something else in common.

The companies that employed those drivers were sued. Distracted-driving lawsuits now are part of the legal landscape, and the lawyers who bring them are increasingly going after the deep pockets of corporations that let their employees talk or text while behind the wheel.

Juries are making it worth their while: One awarded $21.6 million to the Florida family of the Honda driver. And a federal magistrate ordered an Alabama trucking company to pay $18 million for an accident that happened when one of its drivers reached for a cellphone.

Many corporations are eager to settle once they discover they are facing lawyers armed with the smoking gun of cellphone records. The Arkansas lumber company whose salesman crippled the 78-year-old woman paid a $16.1 million settlement. And International Paper settled for $5.2 million after an employee on a cellphone caused a collision that cost a woman her arm.

Todd Clements, a Texas lawyer who sued the cable company for the accident that killed two women, thinks companies are wise to settle without a jury trial.
“People think there’s a good defense here by saying, ‘Everybody does it,’ ” Clements said. “Well, that’s not true, because the jury doesn’t want everyone to do it. They just want to do it themselves. It’s a huge disconnect.”

Given the opportunity to play the scold, jurors are eager, Clement said, to punish corporations in what amounts to a primal act of self-preservation: By awarding huge amounts of money to plaintiffs, they encourage corporate bans on calling and texting.

Multiplying risks

David Teater, a transportation director at the National Safety Council, recently explored corporate liability in cases involving texting and cellphone use. “There was a recent poll in California where fear of cellphone driving outranked drunk driving for the first time,” said Teater, whose 12-year-old son was killed by a 20-year-old woman who drove her Hummer through a red light while using a cellphone.

Teater links corporate liability to research that shows drivers using cellphones are four times as likely to be involved in a crash. “If an employer knew a behavior in some other aspect of the business put employees at four-times-greater risk of injury, would they still expect or even encourage that behavior?” he said. “It’s a huge trend. It’s a real liability for companies, a real risk.”

Whether it’s a company car, a company-issued phone or just an employee making a business call in a private car on a private phone, the corporation is within the reach of a distracted-driving lawyer. “Cellphone use in a catastrophic case is going to be gasoline on the fire,” said Clements, who wouldn’t reveal the settlement paid by Cable One, a subsidiary of The Washington Post Co. “You’ve just ratcheted up your exposure and the essential value of the case exponentially.”

Many Fortune 500 companies have moved to ban all employee cellphone use while driving. UPS, DuPont, Chevron, CSX, Shell and Time Warner are among them. When companies with bans were surveyed by the NSC two years ago, 7 percent said productivity had declined after the ban but 19 percent said it had increased.“There was absolutely concern about that,” said Doug Pontsler, vice president for safety at Owens Corning. “But our position is, quite simply, that we don’t make safety decisions based on productivity.

”After discouraging phone use by drivers for years, Owens Corning implemented a complete ban April 1.“We found the customer response to be really positive to this,” Pontsler said. “Our people have been very open with our customers about the fact that ‘Hey, I may not be able to answer the call immediately.’”

Pontsler and distracted-driving experts agree that the recommendation of a total ban by the National Transportation Safety Board in December was a  tipping point for many companies.

Educating the workforce is critical if any policy is going to stand against a later lawsuit, said David Strayer, a University of Utah professor who is a leading researcher on distracted-driving issues. “It can’t be a wink-wink, nod-nod policy, but in fact one where you really are expected not to use the phone,” Strayer said.

Clements said it’s easy to box in company officials, forcing them to pretend they were unaware of the danger of distracted driving or to admit that they knew the risk and ignored it. “Then you’re able to use the argument that you knew better but you didn’t do better, and that’s the one that really ticks a jury off,” Clements said. “Any employer who doesn’t believe they’re in a box now is foolish.”

In depositions in the Cable One lawsuit, a company official said: “We don’t think it’s respectful to our associates, or reasonable in this day and age, to ban communication. We trust our associates to have really good judgment, and that’s what our policies are all about.”

Disclosing data

It’s impossible to know just how many crash lawsuits hinge on cellphone use. Since lawyers say the majority of cases are settled with sealed agreements before they reach a jury, there are rarely multimillion-dollar jury awards that make headlines.

Until recently, the science of determining whether a cellphone was in use at the time of impact generally has been sketchy. The time stamp on an accident usually was the moment when someone called police to report it. Especially with text messages, which could just take seconds to exchange, matching message to crash impact is a challenge.

“But with phone records now, I will actually be able to track your phone in motion,” said Paul Atchley, a University of Kansas professor who has been a expert witness in distracted-driving cases. “When suddenly your phone is no longer moving, I know pretty certainly when the crash occurred and if you were talking around the time of the crash.”

Atchley says the on-board computers in all new vehicles will make that task simple. “It will become much easier, not too far in the future, for an accident investigator to roll up to the scene, put a little device in the data port and pull off all the information they need to know exactly what happened at the time of the crash,” he said.

Story found:


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:

“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”!!!!



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

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: