According to the United States Department of Transportation, distracted driving due to cellphone use cases 1.6 million automobile crashes each year. These crashes result in a half million injuries and 6,000 deaths every year. The problem is so prevelant that texting while driving has replaced drinking and driving as the leading cause of fatal automobile accidents involving teens. Twenty percent of all teen traffic fatalities in the United States are caused by texting distracted driving.
As the result of a fatal accident caused by distracted driving that took the life of a business associate, a scientist developed a new idea that could end texting while driving.
On May 8, 2008, Dave Sueper was on his way to a business meeting when he was struck and killed by a distracted teen driver that had run a red light. Sueper was the father of two young children. The meeting that he was enroute to on that fateful morning was with Scott Tibbitts, a chemical engineer and space entrepreneur.
Tibbitts was profoundly affected when he learned of the tragedy. He became focused on developing a method to prevent distracted driving accidents with the hope and expectation that doing so would save lives.
While applications are available on smart phones that will disable distracting features of the phone when GPS signals detect that the cell phone is traveling faster than 125 kilometers per hour, these “apps” do not distrinquish between a person who is traveling in a car or onboard some form of public transportation. In addition, these apps can be circumvented by the driver.
Tibbitts solution to the ineffective cell phone applications is a device called “Groove.” Groove is a small device that plugs into a port under the steering wheel and connects the vehicle to the internet. When each driver of the vehicle is registered with Groove, Groove can determine who the driver is within mere seconds of starting a drive. The driver’s cell phone carrier is then notified and texts and calls are then blocked before they reach the cell phone. Aas soon as the ignition is turned off, Groove notifies the cell phone carrier and any blocked messages are delivered to the phone.
Tibbitts’ company is now working with two U.S. cell phone carriers in the hopes of deploying Groove in 2015. Tibbitts’ ultimate goal, however, is to have all cell phone carriers “on board with Groove, providing the capability to limit distractions before they get to the phone when a subscriber is driving.”
The personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Clark, Perdue & List are experienced in handling cases involving distracted driving. If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident and you believe that the driver responsible for the accident was distracted, contact Clark, Perdue & List.