Yes, Big Brother, or maybe Mom and Dad, or even your employer is watching. That phone they just gave you may be set to prevent its use under certain circumstances – but not the to be texting and driving at the same time.
One company has come up with software that can dictate when and when you can use your device. United Efficiency is a mobile software company in Central Florida that dedicates itself to “safer mobile phone use through smart technology”. To that end, Stan Van Meter, President, created tXtBlocker. He says: “Our goal is to help save lives by providing customers with integrated safety features for their mobile phones.”
In October, Best Buy stores will start selling the tXtBlocker cell phone service. Not only will it stop users from texting while driving, but will prevent cell phone use in specific locations, such as school or your workplace. The software also has features that allow the administrator [read: parent / employer] to track the location of the cell phone, and thus the individual. They can set “no-cell zones” so you can’t use the phone at school or in the office at certain times. They can also set arrival / departure alerts so they know when you enter or leave a mapped location [read: did you show up at school today] and establish alerts that track when you exceed preset speeding limits.
All this potential control came about because texting has been shown to be very dangerous if you are behind the wheel of a vehicle, and people addicted to communicating with their cell phone are reluctant to give it up even while driving. In mid 2009, an 18 month study of actual drivers found that when the drivers texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting. A driver typically spent nearly five seconds looking at their device – enough time at typical highway speeds to cover more than the length of a football field. That’s enough time to plow through a couple cars you didn’t notice had slowed or even stopped in front of you.
While driving, you still have the ability to make calls to SafeList contacts and 911. Incoming calls and texts get an automated response saying that since it isn’t safe to text or call while you are driving, you’ll get back to them later.
At the US Department of Transportation [DOT] Distracted Driving Summit just held in Washington, DC, they identified three primary distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive, meaning if you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off your driving, you are increasing your chances of having an accident. Using a cell phone while driving, be it hand-held or hands-free, slows a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol content at the legal limit of .08 percent. In addition to DUI’s [Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs] many states have, or are contemplating making, laws to punish people who are DWD – Driving While Distracted.
If you want to control your spouse, child, or employee via their cell phone, buy them either an Android or Blackberry smartphone. This time Apple is behind the pack – the iPhone variety of tXtBlocker won’t be out until 2011. Pricing plans vary: individual, family, or enterprise. Standard fees are $9.99 per month with download and activation, and on line installation support for $24.99. One year prepaid is $99.99 including activation and support.