More than twenty percent of all car crashes and sixteen percent of all fatalities are caused by distractive driving in the United States. In response to this growing issue back in December 2011 the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a report, which recommended that all drivers should be banned from using portable electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle. iOnRoad by Picitup took a completely different approach to the problem. They said instead trying to ban the use of cellphones, why not use their capabilities to prevent accidents.

iOnRoad is an Advance Driving Assistance System (ADAS) which warns the driver if they are getting too close to the object in front of them. It uses both the phone’s camera and sensors to do this. It has to have a clear field of vision in front of the car.  The camera then sees what is front of the car and the sensors can tell how fast the car is going. Using these two variables iOnRoad can then calculate what is the safe distance between the following car and the car in front. If the following car gets too close to the car in front, the warning light goes from green (ok), to yellow (caution) and then red (danger) and that point a warning sound is also issued. Recently iOnRoad announced that they have added a Lane Departure Warning and a Photo-base car locator. For this they received a Honoree in Software and MobileApp at CES 2012. The iOnRoad can also read aloud text messages and automatically start the speaker phone feature. There is the Road Snap Assistant button which you can push and take a picture of any road hazard you see and upload it automatically to Facebook. iOnRoad can run in the background and only issue warnings when necessary.

Advance Driving Assistance Systems is a growing business worth over $10 billion today and expected to reach $130 billion by 2016. Most OEM ADAS can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple of thousands. The iOnRoad is free and is available in Android Market today and should be available for iOS devices soon. I am sure this isn’t a solution that the NTSB would approve of, but in my eyes it is a more practical one. Trying to ban cellphone use by drivers is not practical, it is similar to the attempt to ban booze during Prohibition, and I suspect the results would be similar.