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New technology to battle teen distracted driving

Distracted driving is one of the many things parents can expect to worry about with their teenagers. But a new technology has been developed to ease parents' trouble minds at least a little bit. Promoters hope that the new technology will be a small step in preventing car accidents caused by teenage distracted drivers.

T-mobile has developed a new service called Drive Smart Plus, which measures the movement and speed of the cell phone itself through its internal GPS. When the system determines that the phone is travelling inside a vehicle, it disables some of the phone's major functions. Calls will go to voicemail and all alert sounds are turned off, though text messages may still be received. The idea behind the technology is that cell phone distractions will be reduced when there is nothing to alert the driver about an incoming call or text.

The technology was promoted at a recent presentation on distracted driving put on by a group called FocusDriven.org. Hundreds of high school students listened to the story of a 22-year-old victim of distracted driving who lost her parents when a truck crashed into their vehicle after swerving out of the way of an 18-year-old driver who was talking on his cell phone. Both of her parents were killed instantly and she was left in critical condition.

T-Mobile spokesman Larry Petrone said of the new technology, "this gives parents an element of control. It's a way to ensure that the children really are turning of the phone when they're driving."

According to the National Safety Council, almost 28 percent of car accidents happen as a result of people talking or texting while driving.

Source: NBC New York, "New Technology to Fight Texting and Talking While Driving," Pei-Sze Cheng," 8 Feb 2011.

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