Stop Texting While Driving with the Groove

Photo from

Photo from

Pauline Ngo, Photojournalist

Since cellphones are so prevalent in people’s daily lives these days, imagine how many people get distracted while driving due to receiving or sending texts. Cellphones involve 1.6 million car crashes each year that cause 500,000 injuries and take 6,000 lives. Texting while driving is the number one cause of teen vehicular death. That one second that people lose their focus on the road can be detrimental to them and the people around them.

Around six years ago, Dave Sueper was driving to a business meeting to meet Scott Tibbitts, a chemical engineer and space entrepreneur for NASA. However, a distracted teenage driver who had run a red light tragically killed Sueper. Tibbitts was heavily affected when he heard about the accident, so he was inspired to find a way to prevent another death from texting while driving. “There has gotta be something that will fix this technically,” Tibbitts conceded to Katie Couric. He just sold his space company, Starsys Research Corp. and was now looking for a new focus; thus, he committed himself to finding a solution to distracted driving.

There are ways to try to prevent texting while driving such as apps on smartphones that can detect when a vehicle is traveling more than 10 miles per hour, which disables distracting features on the phone. However, the driver can easily reject these certain apps. Tibbitts and his team at Katasi, the new company that Tibbitts created, are set to find a way to solve this problem.

Tibbitts produced Groove, a device that plugs into a port under the steering wheel that connects the car to the Internet. When the Groove detects the car is moving and once the driver is registered with Groove, Groove figures out who the driver is and notifies the person’s phone carrier, allowing it to block texts before they reach the phone. Once the car’s engine is off, Groove notifies the carrier, and all blocked messages are received.

For Groove to be successful, it relies heavily on the partnership with phone carriers. Although Katasi is partnered with two U.S. carriers, Tibbitts believes it is not enough. He admits, “Our goal is to have every carrier on board with Groove, providing the capability to limit distractions before they get to the phone when a subscriber is driving.”

Isabelle Chau (12) does not have her license yet, but when asked if she would be tempted to text and drive, she concedes, “No, because it is not worth it to risk your life for one nonsignificant message. You know you will be able to see the text after anyways so might as well wait.” After learning about the Groove, Isabelle would not buy this device because she believes she has self-control to wait and not text, but for others who wish to buy one, the Groove will be able to keep drivers focused on the road.