November 27, 2009

Inside Insurance: On the phone in your car? Yes, you can! No, you can’t!

David Colmans

Smart phones are so cool these days. Talk to people. That’s so old school. Text them and they’ll text back. Get on the Internet and check your stocks or check on the big news story of the day.

Wait. What’s wrong with my phone? It won’t work!

 An even higher tech device that prevents you from sending or receiving calls blocks your high-tech phone as long as your car is moving.

Remember that other high-tech gadget called the GPS device? The GPS has an evil twin that’s keeping track of you if you install this new gadget that puts you in a “cone of silence” as far as your cell phone is concerned.

According to a recent New York Times story, there’s one system called ZoomSafer and others called Aegis Mobility and obdEdge. The idea is to protect you from yourself when you drive.

Some motorists like to have a phone in their hand and talk while driving. Then there’s another phone-junkie group that likes to literally stick a phone in their ear called a BlueTooth device so they can talk and have two hands free to drive.

Thanks to some more recent technology, and some help from Microsoft, your car radio system can use voice technology to find and dial numbers for you by voice command. You have both hands on the wheel and it’s all automated.

Only one tiny problem remains.  If you are on the phone while holding it, using a BlueTooth device in your ear, or talking on your phone through your car’s radio system, you are still on the phone and you are still distracted. Once you are engaged in a conversation, the same rules apply using one hand or both to drive.

These no-call systems do have the capability to allow you to make certain calls that you can preprogram such as 911 or another important number.

Just in time for all the new applications (or apps if you like) that are flooding the market for smart phones, now you have to be selective for your own good.

Just this week the National Insurance Crime Bureau made available to cell phone subscribers a text message service so the caller can send an anonymous text message to report insurance fraud, using the keyword “Fraud” and sending the message to TIPS411 (847411).

This technology is also in use by several law enforcement agencies across the country for the reporting of an incident via text message.

Now the question is who will use the “cone of silence” device. Businesses with fleet vehicles are an obvious market and so are those motorists who realize the importance of limiting their distractions while driving. This group will be a harder sell but you have to admit there is nothing more irritating than being behind a driver going 35 on a 45 mph roadway because he or she is on a cell phone and can’t multi-task.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. That was eighth-grade science.  Now, for every new technology there will most likely be an equal and opposite technology.  Just remember, it’s for your own good.

 

David Colmans is the executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information Service. Contact him at (770) 565-3806 or dcolmans@giis.org.