Cellcontrol blocks texting while driving

Device plugs into onboard computer to keep drivers from texting

One of the most common — and dangerous — distractions for drivers is texting. According to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, a person who texts while driving is 23 times more likely to be in a crash than a driver who isn't distracted.

As the dangers of texting while driving become more apparent, both government and industry are stepping in to limit the practice.

President Barack Obama last October signed Executive Order 13513, which bans federal employees from texting while driving when using government equipment. Nineteen states plus Washington, D.C. and Guam have banned texting while driving.

A few technology companies have joined in the fight against distracted driving, offering devices that will restrict texting and cell phone use while driving.

One of these companies, Cellcontrol, has developed a device that can prevent texting while a vehicle is moving. Using a Web interface, an administrator can set Cellcontrol to block texting and cell phone use, or customize it to allow only certain calls. The device always allows 911 calls.

Most other such devices rely on a Global Positioning System, said Leigh Gilly, vice president of business development for Cellcontrol. All the Cellcontrol system cares about is whether the car is moving, not where it is located.

Cellcontrol uses the computer system that automakers have installed in vehicles made since 1996, Gilly said. The hardware, about the size of an AC adapter, plugs into the onboard diagnostic system port, located within three feet of the steering column. The OBD system is what communicates whether the engine is on or off, as well as the vehicle’s speed, Gilly said.

The device uses Bluetooth and software that’s loaded onto the mobile phone. As soon as the vehicle starts moving, a “blocked” message appears on the phone when the user tries to access texting capability.

An override features alerts the system administrator if the device is tampered with or removed, Gilly said.

Two versions of the Cellcontrol device are available. One, for fleet management, costs $89.95 for the hardware, $24.95 for the software and a $5.95 monthly service fee. A version for family use starts at $59.95 for the hardware.

“If technology has caused the problem, technology can fix it,” Gilly said.

For more information, see www.cellcontrol.com.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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Reader Comments

Thu, Sep 30, 2010 Charlie Washington DC

Yes, I know this article is old, but couldn't help myself. To put it in a slightly less eloquent form than the other commenters: This approach is dumb. It appears to be hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of technology that is immediately rendered worthless by simply not plugging the phone into the car. ...or will the car refuse to start until you've plugged in a cell phone? Who comes up with this crap? Any notions of using GPS on the phone to figure out you're moving on a highway are also flawed. Ever hear of passengers? Should they be prevented from texting too? When will we finally boil all these silly laws down to a DWS citation? (Driving While Stupid)

Thu, Sep 30, 2010

Although, there are many other distractions which aren't even addressed. Activities such as eating, reading, attending to other passengers are equally as distracting as texting.

Sun, Mar 21, 2010 Wolfman West Palm beach

I agree, you only get disgruntled workers if you try and force them to use the technologies. Incidentally, the product will most likely NOT be as effective as it’s hoped. You can install the app on the government phone and attach it to the car, (this alone is going to cost a lot in administrative costs) and it will control a government issued phone just fine. But you have no (legal) right to force an employee to install the application on their personal phone, which they will use for texting and personal calls anyway.

Wed, Jan 27, 2010

Although I agree that somehow this must be mananged is there a consideration for passengers. I do not agree with the concept of blocking by brute force.

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