2012
08.17

Let’s be realistic here for a second. It is not reasonable to expect in today’s increasingly connected culture that when people are driving they are going to completely disengage. That would be ideal, but it is just not a realistic expectation.

So rather than preaching to teens to turn the cellphones off, maybe instead we should offer them safer alternatives to use behind the wheel.

I had an opportunity to chat with Voice Assist’s President and CEO Michael Metcalf at the Connected World Conference this past summer. He explained that on his morning drive to work he is able to use voice commands in the car to read and reply to email—all without typing.

The concept is an innovative one and could open the door for drivers to practice safer driving techniques while still being connected in the vehicle.

The technology, which comes from Voice Assist, is a Handsfree Radio that allows drivers to make calls, listen to email, read email, send texts, receive texts, and post to social networks. This week, Voice Assist filed a patent for the Handsfree Radio with Audio Aware technology.

What does “audio aware” mean? If a call is received, the music or news is paused, the message is read out load, and the driver can respond by voice and then resume listening to content. The patent application also applies to mobile advertising with Audio Aware Ads, which allow drivers to respond by voice after hearing a radio ad.

The discussion of distracted driving is far reaching—from businesses in many different verticals to teens behind the wheel. I regularly speak with construction companies, for example, that view distracted driving as a rising concern that needs to be addressed immediately.

On the business side, a good option might be technology that completely prevents drivers from using a cellphone while driving. Once a car or vehicle is in motion, it automatically disables the cellphone. Businesses are turning to this more frequently.

The concern is valid, as accidents related to distracted driving are going up significantly. But rather than asking users to simply change behaviors—which can be very difficult to do—maybe we can offer different solutions, ones that provide safer alternatives behind the wheel.

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