Driving While InTEXTicated: Technology to Keep Drivers Safe

Thursday, July 16th 2009, 11:27 am
By: News On 6

By Doug Warner, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Thousands of Americans deal with what seems to be a cell phone addiction, but now there is technology to help break that habit.

University of Oklahoma Medical Center Psychologist Dr. Desiree Rahman said many people today have become obsessed with their cell phones.

"Our minds aren't made to do that many things at the same time. How far before we say, 'oh, that is too much,'" Rahman said. "I would describe it as an obsessive behavior, but not a mental illness."

Rahman said she there's a reason why so many people can't seem to put down the phone while driving.

"We aren't thinking about the consequences of the moment. We abstract about the future but not worry about the moment," she said. "We have, for some, expect we have to be moving and active every minute of every day."

But there is technology available that can help break the habit of driving with one hand on the steering wheel and the other one glued to your ear.

Southwest Trailer in Oklahoma City distributes Smart Mirrors, which includes an all-in one back-up cam, GPS and hands-free phone. The entire system costs about $800.

But a cheaper alternative for about $75, drivers can get a hands-free visor mount that allows you to take calls.

But the cheapest hand-free device is the bluetooth earpiece, which has dropped in price over the years to about $30.

New technologies are even catering to text messaging too. Some phones can convert the typed word into spoken allowing drivers to keep their eyes on the road.

Sonar technology in the new 2010 Volvo Xc60 can warn drivers prior to a crash.

"It's like anti-lock brakes and airbags, standard feature on this car," said Andy Truman with Jackie Cooper Infiniti/Volvo.

All of these technologies are something that Jennifer Smith hopes will help drivers stay safe on the roads.

Smith's mother Linda Doyle was killed last September by a driver on a cell phone. Since then, Smith has been lobbying to get some type of cell phone driving legislation passed.

Finally after nearly a year of trying, State Representative Rex Duncan has agreed to a one-on-one meeting with her. Duncan has repeatedly said he is against any type of cell phone driving legislation.