App Seeks to Improve Road Safety
Although it has been illegal for years, the temptation to use a mobile phone whilst behind the wheel of a car is too much for some people to resist.
Now a new application from Romex is setting out to render smartphones inoperable when the owner is driving, keeping their attention on the road ahead and giving insurance providers the opportunity to offer lower premiums to customers who use the app, according to Auto Express.
The app being developed by the firm is tied into the GPS functionality found on all modern handsets. As well as detecting the location of users, this connection can be used to determine how quickly a device is moving and thus work out when a person is walking, running or spending time on board a moving vehicle.
For drivers, activating the app before they climb into their car will mean that as soon as they start moving all of the distracting functionalities usually associated with their mobile will be disabled. This includes the ability to send and receive calls, text messages and data-based communications like emails and IMs.
Rather than a mobile constantly buzzing and alerting drivers to every new piece of correspondence that arrives, taking their attention away from their surroundings in the process, the app will allow cars to become a distraction-free zone, at least in theory.
As well as forcing drivers to behave safely on the roads, the app will also monitor other metrics and can keep track of how long people spend behind the wheel. All of this can, of course, be factored into the calculation of insurance premiums and hopefully allow younger drivers to pay less for cover than would otherwise be possible.
Romex has cut its teeth with an app that offers similar functions designed for use by businesses to help monitor and manage fleets of vehicles and drivers. Now it is taking what it has learned and is harnessing the same systems to give consumers the opportunity to benefit.
Company spokesperson Steve Arscott said that having the distraction-prevention system as part of the Guardian app was targeted at younger drivers because of their natural affinity for constant use of their mobile devices. And as the name of the app suggests, it would not just be those who are in the early stages of their driving experience that would be able to access and benefit from the data gathered.
Arscott explained that parents would have the option to review data and find out whether or not their children have been adhering to the rules of the road or, alternatively, breaking them and creating a cause for concern. This will incentivise good driving skills and reinforce the idea that mobile devices need to be left well alone when in charge of a vehicle.
Romex is in the process of negotiating with insurers in order to find partners that will be willing to offer discounts on cover to users of the Guardian app. Arscott suggests that insurers could also look into offering young customers other incentives to drive safely, such as discounts and offers that they can redeem at stores and restaurants if the app consistently detects good driving habits over an extended period.
While drivers under the age of 25 are most likely to benefit from this scheme, the reality is that similar functionality would be useful for people of all ages and experience levels, since it is not only younger drivers that are guilty of using mobile phones while behind the wheel.
Smartphones have a range of features which are beneficial for drivers, but their potential to also distract people on the road is a real problem. And so an app which eliminates the temptation to use modern handsets seems like it would have a good chance of being effective.