An engineer/rocket scientist who previously developed motors used on NASA space missions has created a device he says could eliminate distracted driving. Although the device seems to have real promise, he’s been trying to get it on the market for two years. The real trick, it seems, will be getting cell phone makers, technology companies, auto manufacturers, and the federal government on board. At this point, Scott Tibbitts and his colleagues at Katasi say they have at least one mobile phone provider who may be close to rolling out the gadget. Another provider has shown an interest in adopting the technology.
Tibbitts says he’s been fighting for two years now to get top executives to hear him out. He has explained that the firms that would be first on the market with this, “Could be heroes… Save a bunch of lives.” But cell phone and auto makers are gun-shy. The fear is that they will be denying customers the option of being connected while in a moving vehicle. The problem is this “feature” is killing thousands of people every year.
Tibbitts’ device is one that can be plugged into an open port on the steering wheel of the vehicle, similar to the way we would use a thumb drive. Called “Groove,” the technology would temporarily black incoming texts and other forms of electronic distractions as soon as the vehicle starts moving faster than 5 mph. The only wireless data that would still work at that point would be global satellite positioning (GPS maps) and music. The device would block other alerts so long as the vehicle is in motion. Then, when the vehicle comes to a complete stop, the device would resume wireless communications/functions. The technology would also be able to differentiate between the phones of the driver and the passenger. This way passenger phones won’t be affected.
The one company that has agreed to a trial basis is Sprint. That technology could be available by as soon as next year. T-Mobile also is exploring the possibility of adopting it. It’s not clear which one will actually hit the market first.
Although Tibbitts is clearly trying to sell his product, which means he is somewhat biased about it, the fact that this kind of technology exists and yet is not available in every vehicle is a shame. Our Spartanburg accident lawyers have represented numerous families who have lost their loved ones or been seriously injured as a result of a driver who was carelessly paying more attention to their cell phone than the road ahead. Although some will argue it’s a matter of driver choice, motorists have proven time and again that they can’t be trusted with that choice – no matter what the laws say – especially when we’re talking about the lives of innocent people.
Tibbitts described the motivation for creating this device as personal. One day in 2008, he was slated to meet with another engineer to discuss a business opportunity. On the way to that meeting, the other engineer was killed in a car accident by a teen who ran a red light while texting. A year later, he developed Groove.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
A rocket scientist says his gadget could end distracted driving. Will smartphone companies go along? Dec. 7, 2016, By Fredrick Kunkle, The Washington Post
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