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Don’t Text and Drive: ZoomSafer Automatically Locks Your Phone While on the Road

The life–and money–you save could be your own.

ZoomSafer

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With very few exceptions, killing people is bad for business.

Driving is good for business, since it gets your employees where they need to go. And mobile phone use is good for business, since it keeps them productive wherever they are. But driving while using mobile phones is bad for business, insofar as it leads to killing people, which it sometimes does. Twenty percent of crashes resulting in injury in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving; 18% of the fatalities in such crashes involved a phone.

All of which, on top of being very sad, could cost your business serious money. Distracted driving is “a ticking time bomb in terms of corporate liability,” said Matt Howard, CEO of ZoomSafer, which announced a new $1.1 million in funding today.

ZoomSafer works to control and prevent distracted driving. It does this in a number of ways. For individual clients who sign up, it can use your phone’s GPS sensors to see whether you’re speeding; if so, it will disable your cellphone until you stop the car. For corporations, ZoomSafer can be applied to your entire fleet, automatically preventing your employees from texting, tweeting, surfing, or doing any of the manifold other distracting things you can do with a phone while driving.

“FleetSafer,” as ZoomSafer’s fleet-wide service is called, also offers businesses analytics for employers to measure employees’ cell phone use while driving. There’s a few reasons why this analytics tool is important, Howard tells Fast Company. While ZoomSafer can exert and influence over smartphones, it can’t do so over traditional mobile phones. And for the time being, smartphones are the minority of the market share (even though that will tip in the next year or two, say analysts). But FleetSafer Vision, the analytics tool, allows employers to monitor even those on traditional mobile phones. Flagrant violators of mobile-use policy can then be called into the office for a warning, based on the data.

FleetSafer Vision is also a more realistic product for companies that regard flat-out disabling phones as oppressive. There are some who say, “This feels a bit draconian, feels a bit Big Brotherish,” admits Howard; for them, they might prefer to eschew the “big hammer” approach of disabling phones for the “small hammer” approach of passive monitoring. That way employers can single out the problem cases, and issue a few warnings before deciding to disable phones on the road.

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Since helicopter parenting is big business, too, ZoomSafer also has a product called TeenSafer, which prevents your teenaged kid from texting or emailing from driving. In an effort to ease the inevitable, “But, Mom…!” conversation that follows the announcement of this new digital restriction on your kid, TeenSafer enables an automatic text-message response to friends you ping the teen while driving. A video shows an outgoing text on an iPhone: “matt received your text but is driving and focused on the road. Try ZoomSafer for free at www.zoomsafer.com.”

ZoomSafer plans to use the new cash to expand marketing and develop new products. One of the most recent developments has been software for Android phones, which launched in January.

Follow Fast Company on Twitter.

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About the author

David Zax is a contributing writer for Fast Company. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Smithsonian, Slate, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal.

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