Mobile communications devices are truly coming into their own with the BlackBerry, iPhone, Sidekick and more making it easier than ever to stay connected via the Internet, voice and text. But all that connectivity can be a major distraction behind the wheel, and so Aegis Mobility has developed a service that helps keep drivers focused on the road ahead by intercepting calls and messages when subscriber is driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving causes 80 percent of all accidents. Just a few weeks ago, a study was released claiming texting while driving to be more dangerous than alcohol or cannabis. “Research has confirmed that the distraction associated with cell phone use is much more dangerous than originally suspected,” said Aegis Mobility spokesperson David Teater. “This problem has grown out of the rapid adoption of mobile technology and our need to stay connected. Aegis Mobility has created the first effective technology solution for this issue.”

DriveAssist works by detecting the movement of the phone, so it activates itself transparently. Once active, the DriveAssist software intercepts calls, rather than merely refusing them, and keeps a log of who called while the phone owner was driving. Text messages are delayed, then delivered once the phone stops moving at vehicular speeds. DriveAssist can also provide the vehicle's location to callers under certain conditions.

For passengers or while riding trains, buses, or other mass transit, there is an override function. This does open up potential for abuse of the override system, but it's a necessary function where commuters might use more than one mode of transport - common in larger cities. To help deter such abuse of the override system, the Aegis Mobility ContextEngine records the circumstances (i.e. location and date) of the override for later use if necessary. Emergency calls are always allowed, with no override necessary.

The program will be software-based and offered through wireless service providers beginning next year. So far, no wireless carriers have adopted the service, but it is being backed by auto insurance company Nationwide.

“There are 42,000 traffic fatalities each year in the U.S. and traffic accidents have long been the number one cause of death for teens,” said Teater. “This is exciting technology that will help people drive more responsibly.”