2013
11.19

I have to confess I don’t know who came up with the expression that “It takes a village,” but we need a village and more to prevent driver distraction these days. I was thrilled to hear that AT&T added a distracted driving piece to its Audiovox Car Connection yesterday. AT&T along with carriers such as Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile have all taken driver distraction very seriously these days and that says a lot about the mobile industry as a whole. These carriers have all joined forces to educate, as well as unveil numerous solutions to help keep drivers’ eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

While all of these companies have a vested interest in driver safety they are also proving that they care about their customers just as much as making a buck. In today’s economy it’s refreshing to see it’s not about the bottomline. With margins getting tighter as cellular is not growing, and it’s about data, carriers have to be careful that consumers are not getting caught up with using their smartphones to surf the Web or texting when they should be focusing on the road when they are behind the wheel.

It’s a juggling act for sure for the major carriers, but it’s good to see AT&T announced that beginning this Friday it will sell the Audiovox Car Connection Elite Series, to help drivers monitor, manage, and maintain vehicle health and safety. AT&T will provide wireless 3G connectivity so consumers can access up-to-the-minute information through a mobile app or Web interface.

The Audiovox Car Connection Elite Series is basically a smart two-way communication device that you just simply plug-in into your vehicle’s OBDII (on-board diagnostic) port. What’s really great about this is that it will work on almost all 1996 and newer model year vehicles. Like we have talked about before these commercially UBI (usage-based insurance) devices are intended to provide information about the health and performance of your vehicle.

These devices give you diagnostic reports to help monitor fuel consumption to conserve gas and maybe save a few bucks along the way. But the real fun stuff about this device is that it can tell you where your vehicle is and can provide walking directions to where you parked when needed. Now I know many of you know how many times that will come in handy in those parking garages.

In addition, users can setup safety zones and receive alerts when a driver enters or exits those zones. But here’s the good stuff, now this device can reduce driver distraction by restricting cellphone usage and provides driver scores to coach young drivers. Now we are talking; since we know more and more drivers are not texting, but surfing the Web when they are behind wheel. I think this is what will really come in handy.

Audiovox Car Connection Elite Series has a pricetag of $179.99 and is available at www.att.com or through AT&T retail stores. The product comes with no contract required, no activation fee, and only needs a $10 per month data plan.

I was pleased to hear what Tom Malone, president of AudioVox Electronics Corp., said about the driver-distraction element when he noted, “The driver distraction, teen driving and safety zone features of Car Connection Elite all help protect the driver and vehicle, and it addresses a growing area of consumer concern.”

This says that more and more companies are getting the real need to partner to make stronger villages. I am inviting all the companies that have distracted driving solutions to put them on display at Connected World Conference in February within the Chicago Auto Show. There’s no better way to reach consumers than at the largest North American auto show. It takes a village, so let’s all do it together so we can keep our roads and families safe this holiday season.

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