LAS VEGAS -- Texting while driving. No issue provokes more public fear and outrage about driver distraction.
Several startup companies say they have an answer, and they hope major automakers take notice.
This year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas devoted lots of space to companies touting safe-driving technology.
Among the exhibitors was Matt Howard, CEO of Zoomsafer Inc., which sells a cell phone application that blocks text messages when people are driving.
The app uses global positioning satellite data to determine whether the phone is moving above a certain speed. If a text message comes in, the sender gets an automated reply saying the person is focused on driving and will return the text later.
"We prevent the driver's curiosity from being piqued, and we enable them to remain focused on the road," said Howard.
Howard is passionate about the issue. He co-founded Zoomsafer after a near-tragedy he caused two years ago.
"I hit a boy, 9 years old, on his bike because I was texting, and so you go through a situation like that and it's life-defining." The boy survived.
The software is aimed at individuals, parents of teen drivers and corporations that want to keep employees from texting behind the wheel. Depending on how the software is set up, the text blocking can be disabled temporarily if the user is a passenger rather than a driver.
Such products come amid increasing calls by consumers and governments for a crackdown on distraction.
Analyst Roger Lanctot of Strategy Analytics said automakers should look at what Zoomsafer and other companies offer.
Said Lanctot: "I think what these companies are talking about makes sense: to solve the technology problem with technology, as opposed to banning mobile phone use in the car outright."
(Source: Automotive News)