A new product blocks drivers and nearby passengers from using their phone as a way of cutting down accidents
Spotted: The National Safety Council estimates that in the United States alone, cell phone use contributes to 1.6 million crashes per year and that 25 per cent of accidents are caused by people who text and drive at the same time. An Indian company, SafeHalo, hopes to change this with a system designed to disable phones that are on or near the driver’s seat.
The SafeHalo system consists of a module that plugs into the car’s OBD-II diagnostic port, a small beacon that is placed on the front passenger’s side of the car, and an app. The three components communicate with each other via Bluetooth. If the driver is alone, once the engine has started, the app blocks and disables the phone’s ability to place calls and texts (with the exception of contacting emergency services).
When other passengers are present, the beacon triangulates the position of the phone within the car, based on the strength of the Bluetooth signal. If the phone is next to the driver’s seat, the phone is locked as before. Once the phone is moved further away, it is unlocked.
Of course, systems like this are not aimed at those who need their phones while driving, such as Uber and delivery drivers, but rather at parents or employers, to keep children and fleet drivers from using their phones while driving. SafeHalo has also developed other similar, safety-oriented products, such as Smart Ear, a device that helps to protect children from predators, and Safe Clamp, which prevents ceiling fans from being used for suicides.
At Springwise, we have seen a number of innovations designed to improve driver safety. EyeDrive allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road by converting the car windshield into a hologram displaying phone functions, and this virtual reality is a safety course for drivers. This is the first innovation, however, that attempts to stop phones being used in vehicles altogether.