Older Folks Drive Distracted Too Solutions for Parents, Apps & Tech: Life 360, Mojo & Signal

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. I just observed a car accident on the corner. A young woman around 23 was crying in her new car that had just been bashed.  She said “I’m working all the time. I’m so tired. How am I going to get to work and pay for it?” I have no idea if she was looking at her phone but being drowsy is a form of distracted driving. It’s not just youn people who drive distracted, seniors driver distracted, too. It has gotten so bad that insurance companies, aftermarket device makers and app developers are offering tools to stop phone use while driving.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), reports nearly 83.6 million sleep-deprived Americans are driving every day.  Teens and young adults are involved in more than half of all drowsy driving crashes annually. People who work nights or long or irregular shifts are also more likely to get behind the wheel when they are too tired to drive, along with the estimated 40 million Americans who suffer from a sleep disorder. In fact drowsy driving is one the many distractions that lead to the launch of required Automatic Emergency Braking.

Older Adults Drive Distracted Too

A survey from Training, Research and Education for Driving Safety (TREDS) program at University of California San Diego School of Medicine found older adults are driving distracted less than their younger counterparts, but are still engaging in this dangerous behavior. Of those senior drivers who have a cell phone, 60 percent of them speak on the phone while behind the wheel, and seniors with a skewed sense of their multi-tasking abilities are most likely to engage in this behavior.

The survey found 75 percent of seniors felt they are capable of using a hands-free device while driving. Twenty-seven percent drove children younger than age 11 in the last month, and out of those drivers, 42 percent talked on the phone while on the road.

According to the National Safety Council, 47 percent of people are comfortable texting while driving, either manually or through voice controls.

Teens Admit You Should Complain

While 93 percent of licensed teen drivers admitted in a recent study by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) that texting while driving is distracting or dangerous, the majority of teens are still using their phones while driving. In fact, 59 percent are using their phones to make calls, 27 percent are texting, and 68 percent are using apps while driving.

Complaining to distracted drivers is important. Liberty Mutual and SADD tells everyone to ask the driver to stop their distracted behavior.  According to a recent study by Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), 95 percent of teens say they would stop engaging in dangerous or distracting behaviors while driving, if a passenger asked them to.  This percentage comes from a sample of students who admitted to engaging in dangerous behaviors while driving.

Dr. Gene Beresin, Senior Advisor on adolescent psychiatry with SADD and Executive Director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Mass General Hospital suggests parents can help their teens to stay safe.

  • Remind teens that using apps or taking photos while driving is just as dangerous as texting while driving. Phones should be kept out of sight to avoid potential distractions.
  • Remind teens to call for a ride if they’re too tired to drive home late at night, and reassure them that you will pick them up no matter what time it is.
  • Talk with teens. Set clear expectations for prom night so your teen will stay safe and you can worry less. Liberty Mutual’s Teen Driving Contract acts as a conversation-starter and customized agreement for parents and teens to get on the same page this prom season.

What are the next steps to stop distracted driving?

There are Apps for that Life360, Mojo, Signal

Life360 recently expanded its popular family location app with the launch of an in-app driving safety service called Life360 Driver Protect, designed to help families become safer drivers and have peace of mind that loved ones are safe on the road.

The Mojo app tracks each trip. Based on your frequency of distraction, which Mojo defines as Swiping and Typing; Handheld Calls; and Handsfree Calls, drivers get an overall Mojo score. The score adjusts up or down after each trip.  Each minute driven without distraction counts as a point. 300 points let’s users spin the prize wheel, to win a $5 Amazon gift card. TrueMotion the app maker claims which reduces instances of distracted driving and other risky behaviors for up to 75 percent of users.

Farmers Insurance announced the launch of Signal, an innovative app which monitors distracted driving by providing ongoing feedback and analysis of driving habits, allowing the user to see when and where they get distracted. Equipped with knowledge of their driving patterns, Farmers  customers who take advantage of this new technology will be able to take steps to help protect themselves by becoming less distracted.

Surete Makes Sure the Phone and Car Are Off

Surete, a Florida-based company dedicated to saving lives, announced the launch of its device and app combo that prevents users from texting, emailing or using social media while driving.

The Surete app, available for iOS and Android, locks the smartphone and blocks all applications once the vehicle has started. Surete enables users to make emergency calls, access navigation and use additional apps approved by the administrator. Once the smartphone is locked, users are unable to turn off Bluetooth, disable or bypass the app in any other way.

Surete Relay, the device users install directly under the hood of the vehicle, connects to the starter fuse and allows the device to sync to the app, which then sends an alert to the administrator to permit the vehicle to start. The device takes approximately five minutes to install and can be done by the parents, fleet managers or an administrator.

Surete offers a premium version that allows admins to visit an online portal to control the functionality of the smartphone and access advanced features, including: location of the vehicle in real time, who drove the vehicle, how fast they drove, how far they drove and provides a detailed map of where the vehicle traveled. Users can subscribe to the monthly subscription plan for $6.99 or a yearly plan for $69.96. The Surete Relay is available for $69.99.