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Scientist invents device that stops you from texting while driving

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A large number of drivers admit to texting while behind the wheel, but if one
former rocket scientist has his way, they won’t be able to for much
longer. American entrepreneur and inventor Scott Tibbitts is the
brains behind ‘Groove’, a tiny electronic device that plugs into cars,
connects to the Internet, and cuts off the driver’s mobile
communications in order to prevent incoming calls and notifications from
coming through.
According to Tibbitts, Groove is compatible with most cars made after
1996 and simply requires the user to register their vehicle with the
service. Once the engine is started, the device automatically sends a
message to the driver’s mobile carrier notifying them to hold any calls
or messages. At the journey’s end, Groove contacts the carrier once
more, and normal mobile service resumes.
Tibbitts, a former
chemical engineer who used to supply spacecraft components to NASA, came
up with the idea after an abortive business meeting in 2008. The person
he was supposed to meet never turned up because he had been killed in a
collision with a teenage driver who ran a red light while texting.

“I got there and he’d been killed a couple of hours before,” Tibbitts told Josie Taylor at the ABC. “It started this process of thinking, ‘What’s the solution going to be?”

Tibitts
is currently in Australia to hold talks with telecommunications and
insurance companies about releasing Groove into the local market, but he
may face an uphill battle in getting drivers to quit the dangerous
habit.

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Despite the risks and illegality, texting while driving is
extremely prevalent in many countries. In Australia, approximately one
third of drivers admit to sending messages while behind the wheel. The
problem is particularly ingrained with young drivers, with two thirds of
drivers under 25 years of age admitting that they text while in control
of their vehicles.
Data from the US is even more troubling,
with statistics from the Department of Transportation indicating that
mobile phones are involved in a stunning 1.6 million car crashes per
year, responsible for half a million injuries and 6,000 deaths annually.
Perhaps
the most promising strategy to encourage drivers to use products like
Groove is for device makers to partner with insurance companies, where
drivers could be offered lower insurance premiums in recognition of them
having a mobile safety device installed in their vehicle.
“We see
an increasing amount of claims where the accident is likely to have
been caused by drivers texting,” Richard Heilig of Hollard Insurance told Taylor. “It’s kind of a breakthrough technology… we think it will go some ways towards improving driver behaviour”.
Source: ABC News

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