By Sarah Klein
The law banning talking and texting on hand-held devices while driving went into effect in July, but CAA Manitoba is taking it one step further by minimizing the distraction and temptation drivers feel when a new text or e-mail comes in.
The automobile club has partnered with ZoomSafer to launch a smartphone application that automatically activates to stop texting and e-mailing while driving. ZoomSafer also has an application available that will read aloud texts and emails, keeping a driver’s eyes on the road — not their phone.
Using a phone’s GPS to detect when a car is traveling more than 24 km/h or connecting with any in-vehicle Bluetooth system, ZoomSafer automatically goes into safe mode, locking the screen and keypad and eliminating the physical capacity to e-mail and text while driving.
The software was unveiled Thursday morning at Thunder Rapids Fun Park, where high school students tested their driving skills in a go-cart while sending text messages at the same time.
Liz Peters of CAA Manitoba has personally used the application for the past month and says it has completely changed her driving habits. “If your phone doesn’t ring or BlackBerry doesn’t vibrate, there is less temptation to take your eyes off the road,” Peters said.
ZoomSafer is only available for the BlackBerry and costs a flat fee of $25 of the current application or $2.99/month for a version that receives updates as they are available. CAA members can benefit from a 30 percent discount off the price.
A version of the software is currently being developed for Android phones and the iPhone.