Preventing distracted driving with new technology

While new technology is largely to blame for the increase in distracted drivers across West Virginia, it may also provide the means for reducing this number. Several devices are on the market that could keep drivers from becoming distracted, though the lack of marketing may not make them well known.

A group of Colorado-based technology entrepreneurs, for example, has worked with the company Katasi to produce a device called Groove. It is plugged in beneath the steering wheel and connects the phone to the cloud, informing the phone provider that the user is driving. It allows the provider to block incoming messages, texts and social media updates as well as prevent the driver from sending messages and posting on social networks.

When others try to text the phone, they will receive a notification that the recipient is driving. All messages appear after the car is turned off. Groove is currently part of two pilot programs. One is with Sprint in the U.S., and the other one is in Australia.

A Louisiana-based company called Cellcontrol has come out with Drive ID, a solar-powered device that similarly blocks messages and social network updates. However, unlike other technologies, this equipment can automatically detect whom the driver is, thus creating separate "zones" for drivers and passengers. It can also score drivers' performance, taking into account speed and acceleration and braking times.

It depends on drivers whether they want to use such technology or engage in negligent driving. If they cause an accident because they were occupied with their phone, the people they injure will have the grounds for a personal injury claim. Victims can first have their case evaluated by a lawyer. An attorney will factor in any comparative negligence, have experts find proof of the defendant's guilt and negotiate for a fair settlement with the auto insurance company.

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