With texting drivers an ongoing hazard, a Montreal inventor thinks he has found the perfect solution to make roads safer.
For Patrick Dubois, the mission to reduce texting behind the wheel is a personal one. In 2008, his then-girlfriend was nine months pregnant when her car was struck by a driver who was texting.
“They were stopped at the light and the man never stopped, he literally just smashed into them without braking whatsoever,” said Dubois. “I saw the man and he was talking to police and to witnesses and he said that he was actually texting, he’s so sorry, he was running late.”
A Montreal inventor believes his RoadBudee gadget can put an end to accidents involving driving and texting.
Studies have estimated that 26 percent of all crashes involve a driver using a cell phone.
Both the baby and Dubois’ ex were okay, but the incident gave him an idea. Drawing inspiration from the Interlock breathalyzer system, which won’t let a car start unless it’s driver blows into it and registers a legal blood-alcohol level, Dubois came up with the RoadBudee.
The device is installed in a car and won’t allow the engine to start until a cell phone is plugged into it. The RoadBudee temporarily blocks texts and emails from coming in and sends an outbound message reading “I can’t text right now.”
Disconnecting the RoadBudee results in the engine shutting off.
“The only thing you have access to is your incoming calls, the navigation and the GPS,” said Dubois. “It’s not a punitive act, the only thing we want you to know is that texting and driving is wrong.”
While there are apps on the market that can block texts while driving, Dubois said unlike the RoadBudee, they can be easily uninstalled.
Thus far, it’s not a free system – a RoadBudee will run a car owner $150. But Dubois said he hopes to convince insurance companies to give out discounts to drivers who use it and also hopes it draws the attention of parents whose teenagers are behind the wheel.
“You say ‘Listen, I’ll give you my car on one condition: RoadBudee is activated. I know that you will not get into any accidents while texting using my car,’” he said.