Fleet managers and parents of teenager drivers were given another weapon in their battle against distracted driving on Tuesday.
That’s according to Cellcontrol, the maker of technology to stop distracted driving.
The Baton Rouge, La.-based company unveiled its driver identification platform, DriveID, during CTIA 2013, a large mobile industry event running from Tuesday through Thursday in Las Vegas.
Like Cellcontrol’s existing technology, DriveID can block anyone who is in the driver’s seat from trying to use a cellphone that has been registered with the service. But the new product only applies its safety controls to the driver’s mobile devices while behind the wheel, leaving passengers free to talk, text, email and browse.
The product is set to be released during the second half of 2013. Consumers and fleet administrators can purchase a solar-powered DriveID standalone device, which is placed on a vehicle’s windshield and will integrate with Cellcontrol’s non-pairing Bluetooth technology to enforce usage policy, score usage, or audit usage of only the driver’s phone.
The new technology is not just a new convenience, it’s an added tool, particularly for fleet operators, according to Joe Breaux, chief technology officer for Cellcontrol.
“It really changes the way in-cabin driver technology works,” he said.
This signaling technology, which Breaux said is proprietary and he declined to explain in detail, determines where the user is in relation to the driver’s seat.
“It’s very accurate,” he said, adding that the technology sends out a signal that basically divides the center console in a vehicle. “Basically there’s an imaginary wall that’s diving the vehicle and drivers on the other.”
The back seat is eliminated from wall.
Currently fleets are Cellcontrol’s largest customer. Fleet companies are flocking to the technology to reduce corporate liability presented by employees who are driving on behalf of the company and getting in a crash, according to Breaux.
“Fleets are now utilizing this technology to protect themselves from this sort of liability,” he said.
He added, “Our bread and butter is in fleet sales.”
Hours of service is a big purchase motivator for fleets to purchase the product, since laws restrict drivers from being behind the wheel to a certain amount of time each day. Currently to report drive time behind the wheel drivers use a key fob, or device where they manually punch in key code to ensure they are the one driving. Cellcontrols’ technology does that for them, according to Breaux.
Breaux also envisions the new product as being attractive to companies who have drivers paired up on long haul truck trips. It will enable whoever’s driving to have their cellphone blocked and the passenger can be on the phone while waiting their turn in the driver’s seat.
Breaux wouldn’t give specific sales data on current Cellcontrol products, but said growth of the company’s existing cellphone blocking product have risen rapidly.
“I can tell you last year our sales increase over 400 percent year over year, and next year our sales are project to increase at a rate greater than that,” Breaux said.
The company has yet to establish a price point for the new product.
Insurers are also having their interest in the new product piqued, according to the company.
With the addition of DriveID, Cellcontrol provides greater accuracy required for user-based insurance (UBI) programs and more distracted driving intelligence, according to the company.
“The future of UBI and distracted driving prevention relies on intelligent driver identification – and we’ve accomplished just that with DriveID,”Breaux said.
Breaux said Cellcontrol has partnered with several “top 10 insurance companies,” which he declined to name. To date, the only agreements made public have been between the company and Esurance, and Boston, Mass.-based Arbella Insurance.
“We have some large top 10 insurance companies who will be rolling out this product,” he added. “They’re going to be using this as a component of their UBI solutions. From an insurance perspective this gives another layer of control.”
Insurance companies can opt to use the device simply in audit mode, collecting information on which to base assessments of driver habits. They can also use it to block cell usage by drivers.
According to distraction.gov, more than nine people are killed and 1,060 more are injured daily in crashes involving a distracted driver.
Breaux said parents of teens driving are another part of the company’s customer base, since the technology enables them to prevent their children from doing things like doing, such as making calls, and texting, while driving.
Established in 2009, Cellcontrol non-pairing Bluetooth signaling technology integrates directly with a vehicle’s onboard electronics, and eliminates a driver’s ability to talk, text, email and browse on multiple devices while the vehicle is in motion.
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