Nationwide Insurance and Aegis Mobility Unveil New Technology to Address the Problem of Driving While Distracted
COLUMBUS, Ohio--Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Aegis Mobility announced today an exclusive partnership to tackle the growing problem of distracted driving with the first of its kind cell phone technology, which empowers consumers to manage the distraction of cell phones or text messaging devices while a vehicle is in motion. Aegis Mobility’s DriveAssist™ automatically detects the onset of driving and enables parents and corporations to stay in touch with their teens or employees while minimizing cell phone use when driving. Nationwide Insurance® plans to offer an auto insurance discount for policyholders who sign up to use DriveAssist™.
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 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.”