Thinking Tech

Tracking the dangerous driving habits of teens

Posting in Technology

An app in development from AT&T will be able to monitor driving habits including the very dangerous driving-while-texting-or-talking habit.

Casey is driving

A recent analysis of 30 years of accident data revealed that the number of fatal car crashes is six times higher than the average on tax day. Maybe such data can be integrated into a new app that monitors driving behavior to alert the driver of any dangerous erratic driving style, like driving while talking to your accountant on your cell phone, before something deadly occurs.

A new app from AT&T, in collaboration with an Israeli startup, Traffilog, collects data from a car’s computer and the driver’s smart phone to provide reports on real-time driving style as well as long-term driving behavior. Specifically the app can reveal whether dangerous driving behavior is caused by phone use. They are marketing it to parents of teens as a digital “chaperone.”

Cars used to be somewhat private vessels, a place where we could escape to, but now with GPS, OnStar and various apps such as the one AT&T is developing they will be a place that collects the places we go and our habits, good or bad.

From a post in TechReview:

"It allows you, as a parent, to monitor kids' driving behavior in real time. And if your kid is SMS-ing while driving, you will be able to log it—and even remotely disable the phone," says Raz Dar, business manager at AT&T's business incubator in Ra'anana, Israel. "The only thing he could do to prevent it is take out the unit from the car—unplug it—but we can detect that, too, and send an alert."

Basically the app merges information about the car speed, rate of acceleration, steering and breaking while the phone records information on usage. GPS is included, so there is the critical mapping info to tell just where your teen is driving. An alert is then sent to the parent’s phone (or whoever wants to have such information) revealing whether the driver is speeding or breaking abruptly, and whether they were talking or texting while driving somewhat erratically.

The app is still in development and there are no firm plans for hitting the market yet. But AT&T intend to be a part of the increasing trend and business of driving monitoring. Researchers at Stanford University study the impact of voice-operated systems in cars. Such systems are able to calm anxious drivers or sense unsafe driving. For instance, soon in our cars we might hear a voice say to us, “Don’t worry, there’ll be a chance to pass that truck. Be patient.”

[via TechReview]

[Photo via ktylerconk]

Christie Nicholson

Contributing Writer

Christie Nicholson produces and hosts Scientific American's podcasts 60-Second Mind and 60-Second Science and is an on-air contributor for Slate, Babelgum, Scientific American, Discovery Channel and Science Channel. She has spoken at MIT/Stanford VLAB, SXSW Interactive, the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council, the Space Studies Board and Brookhaven National Laboratory. She holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Dalhousie University in Canada. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure