A new device developed by an American inventor could soon help drivers to stop being ‘tempted’ to read or respond to texts while on the road.
Along with the rising popularity of smart phones has come a rise in accidents attributed to their use. Despite the fact that it is illegal, about one-third of drivers admit to texting and driving, and about two-thirds of drivers under 25 admit to doing it. And absolutely no road user is safe from the potential impact a distracted driver can have on their lives.
In Victoria alone, police say there have been at least six fatal accidents in the past two years caused by texting drivers, with 16 other fatal car accidents suspected of being linked to drivers using mobile phones.
The Katasi Groove is a small black box which can be fitted into a port under the steering wheel of most car models that are made after 1996. It connects the car to the internet, and is able to then block the driver from receiving distractions on their mobile phone like text messages.
The gadget allows drivers to stop things like texts, emails, and social media from reaching their phones when they are behind the wheel, while still allowing them to listen to music and use navigation. Drivers can customise what they want to do – and don’t want to do – when driving.
The device is tied to the driver’s phone, so passengers with phones are not affected.
When drivers turn their vehicles’ engines off, all of the messages that have been ‘held’ come through.
The American inventor, Scott Tibbitts, is currently in Australia in discussions with the major telcos, including Telstra and Optus, about his device. If all goes well, he hopes it will be available for local release by the end of the year.
Mr Tibbitts – a former rocket scientist – is also talking to insurance companies. He hopes that they will agree to reduce the premiums of drivers who use his blocking gadget as they will be ‘safer’ than a driver who doesn’t use the same device.