Smart phones, smarter drivers - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Smart phones, smarter drivers

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The day a teenager is allowed to get behind the wheel can be a trying time for many parents.

At the 7th annual Southeast Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths workshop, attendees got to see first hand how smart phones may soon create smarter teen drivers.

"The device that we've developed call it the application is designed cannot call out cannot text out cannot receive phone call while they're driving," says Max Donath, Director of the Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute.

The Institute developed the system, an app for smart phones that would let parents know if their teens were speeding.

"The main thing is we want to empower parents and provide parents with the information so the cannot say 'I did not know'," says Donath.

Using the existing GPS in a smart phone, the app would know how fast a teen driver was going.  If the driver went too fast, it would send a text message to the parents to let them know.  Ultimately, the goal is to create better safer drivers.

"If we can affect the behavior of 16 and 17 year-olds we also hope to effect the 18 to 19 year-olds," says Donath.

The app tested well in Washington County, but Donath says he is trying to reduce costs like getting insurance companies to reduce rates for teen drivers with the app.

"We've talked to the insurance companies and although they're intrigued, the bottom line is they need scientific evidence. There needs to be real hard data that it works," says Donath.

Donath says out of all the teens and parents tested, most of the teens and all of the parents thought the app was a good idea.

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