Safely Controlling Texting While Driving For Teens and Business Using

In this interview, we discuss an easy-to-use and fool-proof app to prevent texting while driving for families and for businesses.  This incredible problem now has a simple solution within easy reach.  Listen to the interview here.

Craig Peterson:  Welcome back to Tech Talk with Craig Peterson. Today we’re on the floor of the Consumer Electronics Show, talking about some of the neat new technology that’s out there.

Well, most people are familiar with some of the laws that have been passed over the last few years about distracted driving. In fact, in New Hampshire it’s a distracted driving law. It doesn’t matter if you’re texting or eating a hamburger or putting on your mascara, there’s equal violation of that law. Nothing specifically about texting, but it’s dangerous to be playing with all of those things while you’re driving.

And particularly, I think nowadays the biggest distraction really is the cell phones. And I’ve seen drivers out there who have been texting as they’re driving, with me as a passenger just totally freaking out when that happens. And our kids do it all of the time.

How do you help prevent that? How do you help make it a little bit safer out there? Well, that’s what our next guest is going to be talking about. His name is Daniel Ross. He’s the CEO of a company called Illume Software, and he has a product called iZUP. You can go to his website at Daniel, welcome to Tech Talk with Craig Peterson.

Daniel Ross:  Thanks, Craig. It’s a real pleasure to be here.

Craig: Well let’s talk a little bit about what’s going on here, Daniel. Why did you develop this iZUP product?

Daniel: The product came about when our founder actually had a 16 and a half year old son on a maiden voyage with a new license, and both their phones rang at the same time. And unfortunately, the son who was driving went to go reach for his cell phone and went off of I-95, and luckily they both survived. But it certainly was enough to scare the mother into saying there has to be a better answer.

So that’s how it started. So we started off being a consumer solution to protect teenagers from themselves, if you will, from texting and talking while driving.

Craig: Without having to remove the kids’ thumbs.

Daniel: Without having to remove the kids, exactly, not having to tie his thumbs down or her thumbs down. And today, now we’ve evolved pretty heavily also into mobile workforce. So it’s not only protecting children but protecting you and I also as we drive. You mentioned earlier about the laws. There are now 33 states that have passed laws against texting or talking while driving.

Craig: Yeah. The distracted driving is a real big thing, and it’s difficult nowadays for a lot of kids to not just pick up that phone when it rings or, you know, a text comes in, and respond. I don’t know. Is it inbred?

Daniel: I don’t know about inbred, but it’s become a drug. I mean, it really has become almost a dependency to have that social outreach or that social connection. So this is something that’s disruptive. And by asking people to abstain, to taking away the temptation, frankly, it’s a solution that’s always running. You don’t have to think about turning it on. It runs in the background, and when you go over five miles an hour, it engages. And so, the teenager then all of a sudden is protected from himself or herself.

Craig: So how does this work then? How does it know that you’re going more than five miles an hour, or how does this all tie together?

Daniel: Yes. It recognizes through GPS that by pinging GPS several times, and the satellite will recognize that you’re moving more than five miles an hour. We also use things like Wi-Fi sniffing. We use an accelerometer. We use other devices in terms of sensing to have a sense of motion, and then we engage and block cell phone usage, games, emails, texting, social networking. And all of that is available to you when you stop the car, so you can then get the messages. But while you’re driving, you’re protected.

Craig: So this is an app then…

Daniel: Yes, it is.

Craig: …that’s running on how many phones, which types?

Daniel: Oh, it’s on over 100 phones now, different types of smart phones. We are coming out with a solution also on the teenage feature phones, you know, the texting phones, on Brew and Brew MP. But today, it’s on over 100 smart phones. It’s on Android. It’s on BlackBerry. It’s on Microsoft. It’s also on all the carriers. One of the things that we thought, this is the Telco carriers, so it’s on Sprint, it’s on AT&T, it’s on Verizon. And one of the things… T-Mobile.

One of the things that we thought was incredibly important was that it’s available to everyone, and that’s what differentiates us in the marketplace, is that you’re not going to be safe just because you’re an Android user and can have this. It doesn’t matter what device you’re using. It will be able to take care of you and provide you a solution to eliminate the temptation.

Craig: Now if I’m a business owner, obviously I have business and I have kids. I’m concerned about my kids. But if I have drivers who are out on the road, is this the type of an application that can help with them, too, with their being a little bit safer?

Daniel: You know something, Craig, it’s a huge, huge issue for businesses. The liabilities that have come about in the last year or so have been significant. There have been lawsuits that have gone from a few hundred thousand dollars to actually $18 million in lawsuits, and the employer has lost every time. So if an employee is texting or talking and driving and hurts someone, or kills someone unfortunately, then the employer is liable and ends up paying a significant amount.
There’s also been tens of billions of dollars worth of materials that have been lost in terms of accidents by texting or talking and driving. The statistic, interestingly enough, is 28 percent. So of all accidents that occur, 28 percent are involved with a cell phone. You talked earlier about…

Craig: Wow.

Daniel: …people shaving their legs or doing mascara, which by the way does happen.

Craig: Oh, yeah.

Daniel: They were eating food. The cell phone’s involved in 28 percent of the accidents. And if you ask the insurance companies, we work with a number of large insurance companies, they think it’s closer to 40 percent of the checks that they write for accidents is involved with actually talking or texting and driving.

So for the employers, there’s a huge motivation and a lot of the Fortune 1000 now are developing policies, but also the technology to enforce the policies to protect their employees and their assets.

Craig: If people want to get iZUP here, if they want to get that, do they go to your website? Do they contact the carrier?

Daniel: Very, very easy. You can go to any of the app stores, Android’s app store, you can go to Microsoft’s app store, you can go to BlackBerry’s app store, Verizon’s app store, AT&T’s app store, and our website, to get access. And it’s a quick download. It’s $19.95 for the year or $3 a month in terms of usage. And so it takes literally a couple of seconds.

You get to load what phone numbers. By the way, you do have the option of having a few phone numbers that allows you to talk to your mother or talk to your father or talk to your wife or talk to your boss, for instance, if it’s a corporate solution. And that does allow you to dialogue.

And it also allows you for 9-1-1, which you can push a button, push 9-1-1, and it will send a Google map with a timestamp that allows the fleet manager or the parents to know where the accident happened and when it happened, and of course, contact the EMTs to get somebody out there to take care of you.

Craig: Wow.

Daniel: Yeah, very flexible. One last thing I might add, if I may, on the functionality, because people always ask the question, what if I’m a passenger? It also allows you the ability to be released through a password. So your mother, whoever the account holder is, can release you to be free to use your phone if you’re in the backseat and not driving. So there’s a lot of flexibility there.

Craig: All right. If you want to find out more, again, contact your carrier or go online to Daniel Ross, thanks for being with us today.

Daniel: Craig, it’s a real pleasure and drive safely.

Craig: When we come back, we’re going to be talking more about the new technology at CES, right here on Tech Talk with Craig Peterson.