Although texting while driving is illegal in all but a couple of states, driving while texting accidents still occur with disturbing frequency. In a recent post, CNN referred to “driving while socially distracted” to more broadly describe distracting smartphone practices, including checking social media posts.
In Minnesota, it is illegal to read, compose or send emails or texts while driving. It also illegal to go online while stopped in traffic. First-time offenders in Minnesota face a $50 fine. Subsequent citations carry a $275 fine. In April of this year, 300 agencies joined in a crackdown on texting while driving in Minnesota. During the campaign, offenders received a total of more than 1,000 citations.
Apps and Devices Offer Solutions
The National Safety Council commissioned a survey of 2,409 motorists that solicits their views of technologies that might eliminate such distractions. When asked if either their vehicle or their mobile device came with settings to automatically block certain communications, the majority, or 55 percent, said they would accept those technologies. However, 23 percent, or almost one-fourth of respondents insisted they would try to disable these solutions.
Here are some of the technologies that seek to curb texting while driving along with other unsafe smartphone practices:
Groove – A former space engineer based in Boulder, Colorado, has developed a product called Groove. It is a plug-in device under the steering wheel that communicates with the cloud. Tibbetts’ motivation to find a solution was personal. Upon arriving for a business meeting, he learned that the man he was to meet died that day, allegedly due to a motorist texting while driving. The married engineering company vice president had two children.
Groove tells your phone provider that you are driving. When the provider receives this information, it automatically blocks all emails, social networking updates and texts. It also prevents the motorist from posting on social media or sending messages. The goal is to put the motorist in “super airplane mode,” as Groove’s developer describes it.
Once the motorist turns off the ignition, any backlog of messages appears within about 10 seconds. Two pilot programs featuring Grove already underway in Australia and the United States. There are discussions to try it out in New Zealand, Kenya and Austria as well.
DriveID – Another app, DriveID, is from a company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In addition to eliminating texting while driving, it will also block social networking updates and posts, and it will block access to video games like the wildly popular Pokémon Go.
Drive ID also provides a trip report that scores the motorist on performance, including variables like acceleration, speed and harshness of breaking. The report can go to the driver and a system administrator like a parent.
Wireless Provider Products – Groove and DriveID enter a market already featuring a variety of free apps from wireless providers:
- SafelyGo from Verizon
- DriveFirst from Sprint
- DriveMode from AT&T
These apps send auto replies to let those sending text messages or attempting to call that you are driving. With such apps, texting is not possible when the car is moving. However, some such apps do not block access to social networking.
Disabling or Deleting
Since such solutions will likely resonate with parents of teenage drivers, the degree to which they are resistant to disconnection is important. Therefore, with certain technologies, alerts go out when a driver attempts to delete the app or remove the device.
When a distracted motorist causes an accident causing injury or death, he/she and is often held liable under the state’s personal injury laws. Victims often seek compensation for medical costs, pain, suffering, lost wages and other expenses and losses. In many cases, the parties come to terms without the need for a trial.
If you or a family is a victim in a distracted driving accident, we make it possible to speak with an attorney free of charge and without obligation. We fight hard to get our clients the full compensation they deserve under all applicable laws. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, please contact us.