The Louisiana-based company has developed a system designed to stop ‘distracted driving’, and so help reduce road accidents, by blocking specific uses of mobile phones while at the wheel.

Cellcontrol Aims to Limit Driver Distraction by Blocking Mobile Phone Use

Sending text messages while driving increases the risk of accident by 2,300% and young drivers are especially prone to accidents while texting. There are already a number of systems on the market which aim to block or reduce in-car use of a mobile phone while the vehicle is moving, but Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Cellcontrol has taken this idea a step further with technology designed to ensure specific restrictions – on SMS, emailing, Internet browsing, consulting Google Maps, non-hands-free voice calls, etc – pre-defined by company fleet administrators or a parent. The solution works by using a ‘trigger’ which is plugged into the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) port underneath the steering column of the vehicle. The device immediately detects when the vehicle starts to move, and automatically uses a Bluetooth signal to block unauthorised use of the phone.

Linking vehicle movement with a specific phone

The innovative aspect of the Cellcontrol solution is that you do not have to push a button or start up the system: the technology links driver with vehicle, blocking unauthorised use of the cellphone while the vehicle is in motion, thus providing permanent protection for the driver. The connection created by the trigger mechanism is the only exact way of determining whether or not the vehicle is in motion. Solutions on offer up to now, such as those developed in India by researchers at the University of Technology, Coimbatore, are not able to detect actual vehicle movement. They detect phone movement – which means that the phone owner would for instance be blocked from using the mobile while a passenger in a car. The Cellcontrol technology is compatible with Android-based devices, Blackberries and most Windows mobile phones and also works with non-smartphones. The technology enables company management or parents to set the restriction parameters for driving a vehicle using a Cellcontrol trigger.

Specifying phone use at the wheel

Once the parameters as to what the driver can and cannot do while at the wheel have been set, the Cellcontrol administrator can monitor via an online platform what is actually happening. If the driver tries to tamper with the system, the administrator will receive an alert – an extremely useful feature for parents, who can then keep a remote eye on what their teenagers are doing in the car and take action to prevent the kind of ‘distracted driving’ that is today the number one cause of death among young people. On the other hand, another important feature is that a driver whose phone is controlled by Cellcontrol can still make calls to the emergency services while the car is in motion. Moreover, parents can programme in a ‘white list’ of numbers that their teen drivers are authorised to call at any time.

By Pauline Trassard