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Esurance Takes On Distracted Driving

The company is partnering with Cellcontrol on a device that blocks certain mobile phone activity while cars are in motion.

San Francisco-based Esurance is offering in-car cellular blocking technology to policyholders interested in preventing their teen drivers from distracted driving.

The Cellcontrol device plugs into the on-board diagnostic port and pairs via Bluetooth with an app installed on a mobile device. When the car is in motion, the device transmits that information to the app, which then disables certain mobile device activity until the car is completely stopped.

[Inside PURE Insurance's Cellcontrol partnership]

Users can customize it to block whatever they would like, with texts, email, phone calls and apps switched off by default and hands-free calls enabled. Users can also enable certain apps, like music and navigation, if required, and whitelist certain numbers that won't be blocked from incoming or outgoing calls (as well as emergency numbers like 911).

The app is currently compatible with Windows Mobile, Android and Blackberry devices. iPhone compatibility is coming soon, Esurance says.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
4/10/2013 | 8:18:10 PM
re: Esurance Takes On Distracted Driving
Whoops, I think I accidentally edited out a sentence I had written. If the Bluetooth connection is severed, the device removed, or the app disabled, an automatic e-mail to the parents is triggered.
Anthony R. O'Donnell
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Anthony R. O'Donnell,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 7:41:45 PM
re: Esurance Takes On Distracted Driving
I guess that's an angle too, then.
Thomas Jefferson II
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Thomas Jefferson II,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 1:37:25 PM
re: Esurance Takes On Distracted Driving
Since this connects via Bluetooth, I'm not sure it will be of much use to parents wanting it for their teens. Won't they just turn off Bluetooth? Or is their a log they can check to make sure it was in use?
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
4/10/2013 | 12:24:45 PM
re: Esurance Takes On Distracted Driving
Not just parents of young drivers Gă÷ my wife thinks she should get something like that for herself! Would remove the temptation to "check in" at red lights...
Anthony R. O'Donnell
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Anthony R. O'Donnell,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/8/2013 | 5:00:32 PM
re: Esurance Takes On Distracted Driving
The USDOT says that over 3,000 people were killed as a result of distracted-driving related crashes in 2010. This is one of those areas where parents of young drivers are likely to accept intrusive technology. It seems macabre to put it this way, but young drivers not getting killed in car accidents is in the interest of both parents and claims executives.
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