Gadget Could Save Lives by Disabling Phone Distractions While Driving

A rocket scientist has invented a gadget that could save lives by disabling phone distractions while driving.

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Complex Original

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It's dangerous to use your phone while driving, but too many of us continue to do it anyway. But a rocket scientist has an invention that could put an end to that. The product, known as Groove, disables phone distractions while driving, by only allowing data from GPS navigation systems and music to reach the phone while the car is in motion.

Groove is made by Katasi, a Boulder, Colorado-based company founded by Scott Tibbitts in 2009. Tibbitts, a rocket scientist and space entrepreneur, got the idea for the gadget after a 2008 tragedy. That year, he planned a meeting with the vice president of an engineering company. But the VP never made it to the meeting—he was killed in a car crash after the other driver ran a red light while distracted by his phone.

Tibbitts doesn't want that to happen to anyone else—which is why he invented Groove.

Groove plugs into a socket under a car's steering wheel and then "connects to the Cloud, letting your mobile phone provider know when you are driving and blocking distractions at the source so you can focus on the drive," according to the company's website. The technology blocks incoming texts and other distractions once the car starts going over five mph. The device unblocks the driver's phone once the car stops. Phones other than the driver's, even if in the same vehicle, aren't affected, according to the Washington Post.

According to the CDC, distracted drivers are involved in crashes that leave over eight people killed and 1,161 injured every single day in America. A 2014 survey found that 98 percent of drivers know how dangerous texting while driving is, but three-quarters of them still admitted to doing it anyway, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Currently, 46 states ban texting while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Clearly, informing drivers of the dangers isn't enough to prevent them from using their phones while driving, and clearly neither is legislation. "Everyone thinks, 'One [text] won't kill anybody," Tibbitts explained to the Washington Post. "'How are they ever doing to see me sneaking this text message? And if they do, all I’ll say is I was looking at my navigation.'"

Since the problem is human nature, according to Tibbitts, technology is the solution. 

The Washington Post reports that members of Congress, as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, have expressed enthusiasm, but encouraged him to reach out to cell providers rather than legislators. T-Mobile is looking into the product, Tibbitts said. Spring has been trying Groove out on a small scale, but could make the product more widely available starting next year.

Until then, though, please don't text and drive.

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