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Make your car a ‘No Phone Zone’

According to statistics issued by Nationwide Insurance, distraction from cell phone use – either handheld or hands-free – while driving impairs a driver’s reaction time as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. Brain activity associated with driving while using a cell phone is reduced by 37 percent.
Nationwide quotes a Virginia Tech study which cites the use of a wireless device as the number one source of driver inattention.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that drivers using cell phones are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to sustain injuries.
With 10 percent of drivers aged 16-24 on their phones at any one time, driving while distracted is a factor in 25 percent of police-reported crashes.
The statistics paint a grim picture, and yet driving while talking and texting on a cell phone continues to be a common practice.
Oprah Winfrey has weighed in on the growing problem, urging drivers to commit to making their cars a No Phone Zone. So far 344,793 pledges have been submitted online as an agreement to eliminate texting and talking while driving.
But often promises are forgotten and it is easy to revert back to old habits.
Now, at least two companies are providing applications for cell phones which can be downloaded by parents of teen drivers or by drivers of any age themselves.
Can’t resist answering a call on the drive to work? PhonEnforcer is a mobile phone application that automatically turns off the cell phone when the user is driving. Another app, ZoomSafer, is touted as a tool to ensure that your teen driver isn’t texting while driving.
Once installed, it will automatically detect when the teen is driving and it will automatically activate a safe drive mode which disables the sending and receiving of texts and emails, allowing only 911 calls.
Both applications work on BlackBerry and Windows Mobile smartphones and PhonEnforcer also works on Android phones.
There surely will be those who feel that having such applications installed on their teens’ phones is overkill.
Older drivers may refuse to acknowledge their own lack of self-control, even though they often give in to the temptation to answer “just this one call” or quickly check “just one text.”
Do we really need to go so far as to disable our phones or our children’s phones while driving? That’s a question for each individual.
Maybe such an action is a little extreme, but we maintain that a little overkill trumps the risk of losing a loved one in a distracted-driver accident any day of the week.