hen David Teater’s 12-year-old son, Joe, was killed in 2004 by a driver who was talking on a cell phone, he tried to cut back on his own habit of driving and talking. It turned out to be difficult.
“You have to remember to turn the phone off … which you never remember to do. Or you have to ignore a ringing phone, which is incredibly hard,” Teater said. “We’ve been conditioned our entire lives to answer ringing phones.”
Teater became an advocate for curbing what he calls “driving while distracted,” and now he’s part of a company with a technology that can help.
Aegis Mobility, a Canadian software company, announced Monday that it has developed software called DriveAssistT that will detect whether a cell phone is moving at car speeds. When that happens, the software will alert the network, telling it to hold calls and text messages until the drive is over.
The software doesn’t completely block incoming calls. Callers will hear a message saying the person they’re calling appears to be driving. They can hit a button to leave an emergency voice mail, which is put through immediately.
Several states, including New York and California, have introduced laws against talking on a cell phone while driving, but they still allow the use of hands-free devices like Bluetooth headsets. However, studies have shown that hands-free devices may not help. It appears that it is the distraction of dialing or talking that is dangerous.
Aegis’ software will work on phones with Windows Mobile software or Symbian software, used in phones from Nokia and Sony Ericsson. It uses the phone’s Global Positioning System chip to detect motion, aided by the cell-tower signal. If the phone has a Wi-Fi antenna, that can be used as well, Aegis CEO Dave Hattey said. – chron