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New technology prevents cell phone use while driving

TransUnion and Cellcontrol partner to provide insurance telematics solution

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. Photo: Kekyalyaynen/Shutterstock.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. Photo: Kekyalyaynen/Shutterstock.

Texting, talking on cell phones, checking e-mail and following social media have become almost like breathing – many Americans can’t survive more than a few seconds without doing any of these actions, and for teens this is especially true. When it comes to engaging in these activities behind the wheel, it becomes a parent’s greatest fear.

A recent survey by TransUnion found that 66% of parents surveyed said their greatest concern involved their "child talking on or holding the phone" while behind the wheel of a vehicle. Texting, typing or interacting on the phone in some manner was their next biggest concern with 63% of parents worried about the impact of these behaviors on their teen’s driving ability. Only 34% of parents were worried about teens driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Because of the demand for products that discourage cell phone use behind the wheel, TransUnion and Cellcontrol have partnered to offer a new technology that reduces the opportunity for distracted driving.

"A new technology market for distracted driving solutions is evolving due to increased driving-related injuries and fatalities as a result of smart phone use," said Mark McElroy, executive vice president of TransUnion’s insurance business unit. "While new laws have been passed in more than 40 states to regulate mobile phone calling and texting while driving, our partnership with Cellcontrol will provide additional benefits and security features to consumers. This is a positive example of how technology and information can help reduce insurance liability, accident costs, injuries and most importantly, the loss of human lives."

Despite the fact that 74% of parents have told their teens to turn off their phones while driving, the TransUnion survey found this is still not enough to prevent distracted driving. According to a Pew survey, 40% of all American teens say "they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger." A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that "text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted." And 11% of drivers aged 18-20 who were involved in an accident and survived admitted to either sending or receiving texts when they crashed according to the Federal Communications Commission.

Control by degrees

Cellcontrol’s proprietary DriveID technology has multiple modes of operation that allow technology usage in varying degrees. Protection mode will be the insurance industry’s first and only driver identification platform that ascertains who is driving and "immobilizes devices so that drivers cannot inappropriately use these devices while driving."

In audit mode, the device can be used and monitored while driving, providing a clearer picture of the risks involved and allowing family discussions of them. The technology is capable of integrating with any platform and most mobile devices to provide a true picture of the driver’s performance.

It is possible for DriveID to stop all texting, phone calls, e-mails and web browsing while the teen is driving, but any emergency calls would be allowed through the system. Parents also have the option of allowing some functions in protection mode, as well as receiving speeding, hard braking, device tampering and tracking notifications.

The technology will be available directly to consumers as well as through programs for insurance carriers. "We created Cellcontrol to stop distracted driving and save lives," said Cellcontrol CEO Robert Guba. "We’re not only creating a safer driving experience for our customers, we’re promoting safer driving habits in the process. As a result, we’re already seeing some of our customers beginning to save money on their insurance premiums."

The following infographic illustrates parents' concerns with their teens' distracted driving.

TransUnion infographic