So you realize that texting and driving is dangerous. Maybe you're aware that cellphone fidgeting has surpassed drunken driving as the leading cause of teen driving deaths, killing more than 3,000 teens a year. But, try as you might, you just can't put down your smartphone when you're behind the wheel.
Entrepreneurs have come up with a few anti-texting solutions that should prove popular with auto insurance companies and parents alike.
A 'Quiet Zone' in your car
Brandon Butts, a 26-year-old computer repair tech from Zephyrhills, Fla., has invented a device he calls Quiet Zone Drive that automatically blocks texting while driving.
Once the $330 thumb-drive-size device is permanently installed or plugged into a vehicle's cigarette lighter, it bars texting from any phone that 's on board, as long as the phone has downloaded the free Quiet Zone app.
Quiet Zone Drive is the road version of a similar product called Quiet Zone Hush that Butts developed in January for theaters, churches and doctor's offices in January. The stationary version automatically puts phones that have downloaded the app into silent mode when they come within range of locations using the device. Phones without the app are unaffected.
A 'movement' to muzzle cellphone use?
There are also free smartphone apps available to keep you from texting while driving, though they rely on you to be a little more active against your potentially bad behavior. For example, you have to turn on Text No More when you get behind the wheel, and it then stops all incoming text messages and automatically tells senders: "(Your name) is driving and cannot reply." The app offers coupons and other rewards when texts are successfully blocked.
Quiet Zone's site says stopping texting and driving has become a full-fledged movement.
"Everyone knows that cellphones have become the most invasive distraction of our time ... Quiet Zone reminds users to be in the moment -- to put down their smartphones when it really matters, and give full attention to their surroundings."
Onboard devices are catching on
My hunch is, Butts and other developers may soon be deluged by orders from parents and calls from forward-thinking auto insurance companies that are just beginning to explore the marketing potential of vehicle monitoring technology.
Progressive's Snapshot onboard monitoring program, the most visible example so far of this nascent industry trend, offers drivers the potential to lower their rates by demonstrating good driving behaviors.
As a similar onboard consumer option, Quiet Zone Drive might one day not only save you money -- it could also save your life.
Follow me on Twitter: @omnisaurus
Subscribe to Bankrate newsletters today!
Jay MacDonald is a Bankrate contributing editor and co-author of "Future Millionaires' Guidebook," an e-book by Bankrate editors and reporters.