Thursday, April 24, 2014

Apps for parents curb distracted teen drivers

From:  The Washington Post

Among all drivers involved in fatal crashes, teens were the most likely to have been distracted, National Highway Traffic Administration data show.

“They feel invincible,” said Jurek Grabowski, director of research at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “They have large social networks and they want to stay in contact with them.”

Conversations on the go, texting, surfing the Internet and taking selfies are such a habit among teens that studies show they underestimate the risk. Teens make up a significant percentage of the approximately 660,000 drivers who are having phone conversations or manipulating electronic devices while driving at any given moment during daylight hours in the United States.

And most teenagers who chat, text or surf while driving are breaking the law.

The District and 37 states — including Maryland and Virginia — ban novice drivers from talking on the phone while driving. The three local jurisdictions and 41 other states bar all drivers from sending and receiving text messages while driving. But respect for those laws is akin to that given the speed limit.

“We need to almost turn this thing into a brick,” David Coleman said recently, holding up his cellphone while sitting in a Bowie Starbucks. “It can’t just be about texting. It has to be about e-mail, Facebook and no inappropriate calls.”

Coleman is marketing director for Louisiana-based Cellcontrol, one of several companies competing for the chance to shut down people’s mobile devices while they’re driving. Most of the companies that sell cellphone service — Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and others — also provide apps that can limit access.

Many of the apps are triggered when a GPS sensor detects that a vehicle is in motion, and some — such as AT&T’s DriveMode — will alert parents or employers when the app has been turned off or disabled. Independent experts consider that a feature buyers should look for.

“Especially for younger drivers. As clever as you can be, they will be more clever,” said Leo McCloskey, a tech guru for the Intelligent Transportation Society of America. “The best way to do it is to integrate the device with the vehicle so that you could have more fine-grained control.”

Read the entire article for more information on Apps for parents to curb distracted teen drivers