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New in-car devices aim to correct distracted driving habits

As technology advances, humans seem to be looking for ways to use technology to correct and improve our own behavior. Exercise "wearables" encourage us to be more active, while entire smartphone apps are built around reminding us to drink water.

There are also plenty of tech solutions to a problem that is often created by the tech we use: distracted driving. In an effort to reduce car accidents caused by distracted driving, most smartphones now come with "drive mode" features that can detect when the phone is in a moving car and can disable certain features like text message alerts. And in recent months, a 19-year-old inventor from here in the Northeast has been receiving a lot of attention for a device that promises to detect and correct distracted driving in real time.

The product is called "SMARTwheel," and it works through a series of sensors built into an attachable steering wheel cover. At the top of the wheel (12:00 position), a small light panel is situated. Whenever a driver does something perceived as dangerous or distracting, the light panel changes from green to red and a beeping alarm sound can be heard. According to the product's website, driving data can also be collected and sent to a smartphone for later analysis by teens and parents.

Hopefully, this product and others like it will become ubiquitous and sophisticated enough to truly change driver behavior on roads across the United States. Distracted driving is a hazard we simply cannot afford. Therefore, all viable solutions to the problem should be given due consideration.

Source: Brand Channel, "CES 2015: Teen-Created Smart Steering Wheel Tackles Distracted Driving," Shirley Brady, Jan. 7, 2015

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