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Can technology end distracted driving by commercial truck drivers?

This week was CTIA 2013, the major trade show for the wireless technology industry, and a company called Cellcontrol introduced a new device it says could pretty much stop commercial drivers from talking or texting on cellphones while they're behind the wheel. The device, DriveID, integrates into a vehicle's electronics, senses when the vehicle is moving, and blocks the cellphone signal of anyone sitting in the driver's seat.

Could this device bring about the end of distracted driving accidents caused by commercial truckers? Cellcontrol thinks so -- and so do a number of major commercial fleet managers, the company claims.

Although the device won't be ready for sale until later this year, Cellcontrol reported receiving a great deal of interest in the device from both commercial trucking companies and insurers. The company already produces a device that blocks all cell phone signals in vehicles when they're in motion, but that version prevents passengers and paired truck drivers from using their phones. The new version targets only the driver's phone.

According to Cellcontrol, trucking companies said their main interest in the device was to carefully manage commercial drivers' hours of service, which are restricted by law. Currently, many companies track drivers' time behind the wheel with a tracking device on the driver's key fob that allows them to ping the dispatcher. DriveID would take over that function and also block phone-based driving distraction.

Both trucking companies and insurers also indicated they hoped a sharp reduction in distracted driving by their truckers would result in a corresponding drop in truck accidents -- and in the accident liability costs on their balance sheets.

We all know that distracted driving accidents involving any kind of vehicle cause tragedy and heartache. And, when commercial trucks are involved, accidents are much more likely to be catastrophic. If technology is what it takes to cut down on truck wrecks, more power to the companies that implement it.

Source: Insurance Journal, "DriveID Can Block or Track Driver's Mobile Use," Don Jergler, May 21, 2013

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