DISTRACTED DRIVING: Can a device protect my teen from texting and driving?

We have all seen the pictures.  Everyone knows of the dangers of texting and driving, yet the message doesn’t seem to be sinking in.  In 2011 alone, 3,331 people were killed in car accidents involving distracted drivers and an additional 387,000 others were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Even though distracted driving encompasses different types of distractions, from applying makeup to fiddling to the radio to talking to passengers in the car, texting is especially dangerous.  Teens, especially believe that sending a quick text is safer than talking on the phone and a quick Facebook update is really “no big deal”.  Studies have shown that three things actually happy when a driver is distracted, even for a second.  It removes the mind from driving, removes your hands from the wheel and removes your eyes from the road.   

Talking about it isn’t enough.  Teens are being asked to make the commitment to not text and drive and, in fact, avoid distracted driving altogether, and to honor that commitment.  However, it is not always as easy as making a promise and keeping it.  Some teenagers are taking the commitment one step further and shutting off their phones in the car.  But what about those who find this a difficult commitment to make?  Others have downloaded apps to their phones which disable a smart phone while driving.  Esurance has developed a device called DriveSafe for its customers. 

DriveSafe is a device that can be inserted into the onboard diagnostics port of any non-hybrid/electric car made after 1996.  The device communicates via Bluetooth with the Esurance smartphone app and allows parents to fine-tune what their kids’ phones can do.  They can disable texting, limit cell phone use, with the exception of the ability to dial 911, and even track how a teen drives, including how fast they went, how quickly they accelerated, how hard they braked and where they went.  Basically giving full parental oversight to a teen’s driving habits.  If a teen tries to remove the device from the car, the parents receive notification.  If you are not an Esurance customer, there is a device called Cellcontrol which has many of the same features.

Will this curb the trend towards texting and driving in teenagers?  It has the potential to make a serious difference in the statistics.  If you have a teenager who drives, or know someone who does, please make sure they are aware that devices do exist to help protect their teen from the dangers of distracted driving.