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Make your car a text-free zone

By Jay MacDonald ·
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

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

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Jay MacDonald is a Bankrate contributing editor and co-author of "Future Millionaires' Guidebook," an e-book by Bankrate editors and reporters.

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Tom Smythe
June 13, 2013 at 10:08 am

"there is no call or text that can't wait"

So what happens when you are in an accident late at night with no one around and a device like this won't let you call for help?

June 12, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Mags is right, It might be called "Old School" but I been driving for 53 years, and up until 7 years ago without a cell phone. I did have bag phones etc since 1996. But it used to be for safety reasons, couldn't afford all those minutes and remote fees since I traveled alot for business. Now We should all turn them off. I am an amputee, nothing to do with texting, but I visit amputees in hospital and I will never forget meeting Brandy, a 21 year old Nursing student that had a single car accident on a remote road while texting an angry text over a fight with someone that happened earlier. She laid in a ditch for hours until a driver saw a reflection as he drove by and stopped and called for help. Her leg was 30 feet behind her and she suffered a stroke on the helicopter ride to the hospital. She has recovered very nicely after a couple of years but still having a few speach and movement issues but a glowing attitude about her status. She now offer to speak to Church and Schools about Texting driving. I don't text but I do talk and make calls while driving and I need to stop and I owe that to Brandy, there is no call or text that can't wait. I waited from 1960 until 1995 without a phone, I am officially swearing off talking on the phone, I take the pledge, I just needed to say it out loud. God Bless you Brandy.