CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It's no secret that texting and driving is a huge problem on the roads. A recent AAA study revealed that distracted driving is a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 serious accidents involving teenagers.
Yet many people refuse to put down their phones when they're behind the wheel.
What if there was a device that would actually BLOCK a driver from using that phone? We're taking "Drive ID" for a test drive.
Every day in our country, nine or more people are killed by distracted drivers, and at least 1,100 are injured. We Americans can't seem to part with our phones, even when our lives depend on it. When it comes to teens, AAA says distraction is to blame for more than half of their crashes.
"If I see it light up, I automatically look down and stare at it," said 17-year-old Catherine McNaghton, who has been on the road for a little more than a year.
Her mother Liz is confident in her driving skills.
"But you add in the cell phone and other people in the car and you just get a little concerned about it," she said.
"I know quite a few kids who've gotten in accidents because of texting while driving and they know the consequences, but still a lot of kids
do it," says Catherine.
Businesses with fleets are starting to take this issue just as seriously as parents of teen drivers. W.F. Hann has 40 vehicles on the road 8-10 hours a day, all week long.
"Safety is a huge concern, not only for our employees but also for other people on the road," said Chief Operations Officer, Karen Johnson.
They have a "no cell phone policy" that techs and drivers have to sign when they're hired.
"But we really don't have any way of monitoring that and we do know being in the service industry they are going to have to answer their phone, but we expect them to pull off to the side of the road or pull into a parking lot," said Johnson.
But she knows there are some employees who don't respect the policy.
At our request, Catherine and Technician Donnie Lowe took this device, Drive ID, for a spin. Both report it was easy to install and connect
to their phones.
Here's how it works: The unit sticks to the windshield, right under your rearview mirror. And through established zones, and blue tooth connectivity,
it blocks the driver from using their phone while the car is in motion, except for established parameters like a parents' phone number, a dispatch center, and 911.
Lowe drove around for four days with Drive ID in his on-call vehicle.
"In that four days I learned quite a bit about my driving habits that were a little alarming," he said.
Drive ID stopped him from sending or receiving phone calls or text messages, even replying to those trying to reach him with a message about
when he would be available. It blocked him from using apps. And reported when he used enabled ones.
Lowe says the device served as a mirror, displaying his potentially unsafe driving habits.
"I don't need to be texting. Don't need to be calling when I'm in route to a house. It can wait," said Lowe.
The McNaghtens also appreciated the effectiveness and instant feedback.
"My husband and I both love this device. Because it cuts everything off. You don't get distracted and then the added bonus is it tracks their
driving, which I think is fabulous," said Liz.
After each trip, you can call up reports on things like hard stops, accelerating or aggressive driving. Lowe says his awareness skyrocketed.
And Catherine says blocking her phone silenced her distractions and made her a better driver.
"Even while driving, it made me try to do better while driving and not stop as quickly and go out as fast because I didn't want to see those
reflected in the app," she said.
Jesse Hoggard with Drive ID's manufacturer, Cell Control, says other fleet clients are reporting a reduction in rear-end collisions by as much
as 80 percent. Accidents rates were cut in half.
"In the long run we can save companies money, but we're saving lives in the process," he said.
The unit retails for a one time cost of $129. Fleets have different pricing. And Cell Control has just launched a free app that scores and
improves driving by showing users their mobile distraction level behind the wheel.
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