A device that blocks incoming and outgoing calls/texts on cell phones when a person is driving can reduce distracted driving among teenagers, says a study.
Studies suggest that the use of voice/text devices while driving is associated with crash risks up to 24 times higher than the time when cell phones are not used for talking or texting while driving.
"The risks of electronic distraction for young drivers are very real, but facts and figures have not done enough to change driver's behaviour," said lead author Beth Ebel, an associate professor of paediatrics at the University of Washington.
Ebel and her colleagues wanted to find out if technology could reduce distracted driving, high-risk driving events and injuries among adolescent drivers. They conducted a pilot study of two interventions.
The first was a device that blocks incoming and outgoing calls/texts on cell phones when the vehicle is being operated.
The second was an in-vehicle camera system triggered by hard braking, fast cornering or an impact that exceeds a certain g-force.
A video recorder captures events, which parents and teenagers can review to improve driving behaviour. Both systems are commercially available.
Twenty nine teens were randomised to one of three groups: camera only, camera plus cell phone blocking or control group.
Results found that teenagers in both intervention groups had lower mobile phone use and fewer high-risk driving behaviours than the control group.
The reduction in distracted driving was greatest for drivers with the blocking programme installed on their smartphone.
"The results of our study suggest that technological programmes that may help limit exposure to distraction for novice drivers are accepted by teenagers and lowered risky driving," Ebel concluded.
The study was presented at the Paediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in San Diego recently.