Research has confirmed that the distraction associated with cell phone use is much more dangerous than originally suspected
COLUMBUS, Ohio (PRWEB) October 13, 2008
Nationwide's second annual Driving While Distracted (DWD) study shows nearly half of Americans (48 percent) considered cell phones to be the most dangerous distraction while driving. More than 40 percent say they have been hit or almost hit by another driver who was talking on a cell phone.
"Nationwide is working on a combination of solutions to curb DWD – including public awareness, legislation, highway design and encouraging the development of new technology," said William Windsor, Nationwide's AVP of Safety. "DriveAssist is the first technology for reducing DWD. Nationwide is partnering with Aegis Mobility to help bring consumers an effective tool that empowers people to make smart decisions behind the wheel and to make the road a safer place."
Nationwide is passionate about developing safety solutions for teenage drivers. Last year, Nationwide developed a program called SmartRide to empower teenagers to be safer drivers. Teaming with the National Safety Council, Nationwide developed http://www.NationwideSmartRide.com, a website to provide parents and teens free tools and resources to help develop safe drivers and reinforce smart behavior. It is available free to anyone regardless of whether they are a Nationwide customer, however Nationwide customers and their families have access to additional training and coaching tips.
DriveAssistTM is a unique, patent pending technology that provides a software-based mechanism to prevent and control incoming and outgoing calls, text messages and Internet access when a cell phone user is driving. This safe driving technology will be offered next year through wireless operators.
The technology works like a personal assistant by informing the caller that the person they are trying to reach is driving and can't answer the phone or text message. The service offers options to the caller, including the opportunity to leave a message, send an audible alert or request a callback. The service always allows 911 calls and offers an override feature for passengers.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving causes 80 percent of all accidents. Studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveal that drivers using a cell phone are four times more likely to be involved in a personal injury auto accident, that hands-free offers no improvement over handheld. A University of Utah study found that cell phone users were five times as likely to be in a crash and their driving performance was worse than a driver with a 0.08 blood alcohol content.
"Research has confirmed that the distraction associated with cell phone use is much more dangerous than originally suspected," said Aegis Mobility spokesperson David Teater. "This problem has grown out of the rapid adoption of mobile technology and our need to stay connected. Aegis Mobility has created the first effective technology solution for this issue."
Teater has tragic, first-hand experience with the issue of distracted driving. In January 2004 his 12-year-old son Joe was killed when a driver ran a red light while distracted by a cell phone. In 2006, Teater quit his job to become a full time advocate for cell phone driving reforms and education. This pursuit led him to Aegis Mobility, where he joined the company to help bring DriveAssistTM to market.
"There are 42,000 traffic fatalities each year in the U.S. and traffic accidents have long been the number one cause of death for teens," said Teater. "This is exciting technology that will help people drive more responsibly."
Nationwide believes the problem of DWD must be addressed through technology, education and legislation. Nationwide has partnered with NASCAR to educate high school youth about the dangers of DWD and Nationwide's annual DWD consumer polls highlighting the extent of the problem have been used by lawmakers as validation for related bills.
There are currently five states that ban the use of handheld cell phones when driving (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Washington) and six states have a text messaging ban for all drivers (Alaska, California, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington). Seventeen states restrict all cell phone use by novice drivers.
As part of its ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the prevalence of distracted driving, Nationwide will be partnering with the National Safety Council to jointly host a DWD Symposium in Washington, D.C., on October 14-15, 2008. At this Symposium, Nationwide and the National Safety Council will gather thought leaders to discuss which distractions pose the greatest threat and how distracted driving can be mitigated.
Aegis Mobility creates innovative solutions that enable people to manage their mobile communications based on activity, location, time and caller identity, putting people in control of their lives while increasing their productivity and ensuring their personal privacy. DriveAssist™, the first product based on this solution, will positively impact the escalating issue of cell phone use while driving. DriveAssist is scheduled to launch in 2009 with major U.S. wireless operators. For a demonstration of the DriveAssist product, please see http://www.aegismobility.com.
Nationwide, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the world. Nationwide ranks #108 on the Fortune 500 list. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto insurance, motorcycle insurance, boat insurance, home insurance, life insurance, farm insurance, commercial insurance, and financial services. For more information, visit http://www.nationwide.com/.
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