Auto insurance companies discourage distracted driving

Software can prevent cell phone use behind the wheel, potentially lowering auto insurance costs

In study after study, distracted driving has been shown to increase accident risk - and auto insurance companies are interested in discouraging customers from calling or texting while driving.

One major insurance company is even offering a 5 percent discount on premiums for customers who sign up for a cell-phone blocking service provided by Aegis Mobility, the New York Times reports.

Aegis' software is similar to those offered by obdEdge and ZoomSafer. The programs use phones' GPS capability or cell tower proximity to determine if the phones are in a moving vehicle. If so, they will block incoming calls and prohibit the driver from using any of the phones' functionality.

Simply turning a phone off has the same effect, of course. But the lure of staying in touch can be too strong for many people, necessitating a software solution. "If we could control ourselves, we wouldn't need any of this technology," noted Donald Powers, a managing partner at obdEdge.

Some people favor hands-free devices to reduce distracted driving. But Insurance Institute for Highway Safety president Adrian Lund suggested that there is no "difference between hand-held and hands-free." The safest solution - and the best way to keep auto insurance companies happy - may be the software that blocks all phone use.

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Posted: November 23, 2009

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