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New tech may be the answer to distractions on the road

As too many drivers in New Mexico know through personal experience, smartphones provide a variety of distractions. To stop this, several phone providers have made free apps available that silence all incoming communications, send autoreplies and prevent drivers from engaging in certain functions like texting. However, these do not block all communications.

This is where two new devices come in. The first is called Groove and is currently undergoing pilot programs in the U.S. and Australia. Groove can be plugged into any car, just beneath the steering wheel, and link the driver's phone to its service provider. Once the provider knows that the vehicle is in motion, it blocks all communications and leaves only basic functions like music streaming and navigation intact. Even these can be blocked if drivers or administrators wish it. All messages appear after the car is shut off.

The second device is already available. Produced by a company in Louisiana, the solar-powered Drive ID can be attached to the windshield and block all the usual functions on drivers' phones, including access to mobile games like Pokémon Go. One advantage is that by creating separate "zones," Drive ID doesn't interfere with passengers' phones. It could also report on driver performance after each trip based on information like speed and braking times.

If the victims of auto accidents find out that the other driver was distracted, they may have the grounds for a personal injury claim. With a lawyer, they may be able to gain access to the defendant's cellphone records, the police report and other documents that will be useful when the time comes for negotiating a settlement. The lawyer may handle these negotiations with the auto insurance company, taking the case to court only as a last resort.

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