Jan 21, 2011

T-Mobile Backs Application to Block Texts, Calls While Driving

I don't know exactly how this service works since I don't have T-mobile- but let me make this clear- any phone company that disables my device after I have paid for the right to use it will lose my business so fast they won't even realize I  was ever there.   I know that this is an app that you install and enable on your phone, but that next step will be companies choosing do to it FOR us.   I can think of so many situations where this could actually do MORE harm than good...how about a guy driving his wife to the ER while she's in labor- just because the car is moving doesn't mean a passenger isn't the one using the phone!   How about if I'm lost and trying to get directions?   Or being kidnapped and locked in the trunk...There are so many other ways to stop the problem of distracted drivers.   Make it a FELONY to use the phone while driving.   Create a tattle-tale website where you tweet in the license of the distracted driver..oh, wait, never mind- that would only encourage more phone use while driving, please disregard that last one.   Society is actually built today around the idea of technology while in motion!

I do see the benefits this app could have for new and inexperienced driver's, but if you really don't trust someone enough to make the decision on how to use their phone while driving, do you also think they should be allowed to drive in the first place?

The problem with creating this technology is that some overzealous nut bag is going to try to make it a LAW that the app be mandatory- if people would just use common sense instead and utilize their ability to make good decisions while handling a motorized vehicle this would all be a moot point.   So, instead of spending dollars creating apps, why not invest it in public education programs and in upgrading the sorely lacking DMV licensing programs?   I had to learn how to drive- classes, with hours, tests...how many immigrants were able to just swap their existing foreign licenses out for US ones?   I'm not saying it's only foreigners who can't drive for beans, I'm just pointing out a majority of the issue is LAX REGULATIONS. Here's the entire article...

If you don't have the willpower to decline calls or texts when you're behind the wheel, T-Mobile now has a way to do it for you.
T-Mobile's service, DriveSmart Plus, is not the first smartphone application to attempt to block on-the-road calls and texts. But while other cell phone carriers say they are working on similar kinds of technology, T-Mobile's service is the first carrier-backed service to hit the market.To stop cell phone users from driving dangerously, the company this week unveiled a new service that automatically disables most texting and calling features when a phone senses that it is in motion.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but, in a press release, said that the $4.99 per month application, developed by Emeryville, Calif.-company Location Labs, will be available to T-Mobile customers with Android smartphones.

Driving Safety Phone Applications Re-Direct, Block Calls and Texts"T-Mobile customers can do more on their phones than ever before while on the go," Torrie Dorrell, T-Mobile USA's vice president of applications, content and games, said in the statement. "We feel strongly that with this freedom comes the responsibility to use their phones only when it is safe to do so. The T-Mobile DriveSmart Plus application is designed to keep our customers, their loved ones and the road safe."
Location Labs' CEO Tasso Roumeliotis said that while other independent companies offer similar services, a major weakness in previous versions has been a lack of necessary battery power.
In order for the applications to work, they must use the cell phone's GPS technology, which can be incredibly battery intensive. Though Location Labs' technology also uses GPS, Roumeliotis said it's a patented approach that uses it more efficiently without draining a phone's battery power.
When activated, the DriveSmart application determines how quickly a phone is switching between cell phone towers. When it senses that the phone is moving faster than 10 mph, within a few minutes, it automatically sends phone calls to voicemail or a hands-free Bluetooth headset (depending on which version the customer selects). It sends text messages to a user's inbox.
Depending on the phone, the application can also disable audible alerts so that the driver isn't even aware of incoming messages.

New App Targets Teens, Families

If drivers want to override the service for an emergency call or if users want to override the feature while they're in the passenger seat (or even on a moving bus), DriveSmart allows that. But Roumeliotis said the override function can be logged so that if, for example, a parent activated the service for a teenager, the parent would know when the service was disabled.
"We definitely view this as being a deterrent," he said. "And the market is teens."
Roumeliotis said the application will initially only be available on newer T-Mobile Android phones. But considering that the response to the service has been "exceptional," they hope to reach other platforms.
"Any phone that can support our technology, we intend on building for," he said.

Safety Expert: Distracted Driving Is Bigger Than Cell Phone Use

Given ongoing concern about distracted driving, a number of smartphone developers have released applications that use GPS technology to detect when a cell phone is motion and then block or redirect incoming calls and texts.
"There are several technologies out there today that, in our opinion, are not effective," said John Ulczycki, a vice president with the National Safety Council.But safety experts say that not only do these currently available applications suffer from reliability and performance issues, they also lack another key component: the support of a cell phone carrier.
He said the role of a carrier like T-Mobile is "very significant" because it ensures functionality that smaller companies don't have and also simplify the monitoring process for families and companies with driver safety policies.
Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said that while a carrier-backed service might be more reliable and easier for families to use, adoption could still be a wild card.
"It's hard to know how widely accepted these systems will be by drivers," he said.
Studies have shown that cell phone use while driving increases crash risk by four times. But "distracted driving is bigger than just cell phones," Rader said. "Targeting cell phones only addresses one slice of the problem."

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