Most drivers know it’s risky to use a cellphone behind the wheel, but that hasn’t stopped the rise of distracted driving. Online insurance agency Esurance announced one solution that automatically blocks phone calls, texting, and even web access on a driver’s cell phone once the car is in motion.
The Esurance system consists of a Bluetooth device the plugs into a car’s OBD-II port, allowing it to determine when the car is being driven. An app on the user’s smartphone, developed by Louisiana-based Cellcontrol, listens for signals that the car is in motion and automatically blocks selected features. Users — or, more likely, protective parents — can configure the app to block all activity or only certain features, and can create a “whitelist” of emergency phone numbers that can still call the phone.The app will automatically tattle via email if the teen tries to disable the app or removes the OBD-II adapter.
Esurance plans to offer this system to teenage drivers to help curb accidents from distracted driving due to phone use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that in 2011, 387,000 Americans were injured and 3331 were killed due to distracted driving.
Esurance says the cell-blocker currently is available for Android, Blackberry, and Windows smartphones, with software for the Apple iPhone coming soon. The system is free to any Esurance user with teenage drivers registered on their insurance policy.