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New ignition interlock for phones targets distracted driving

Consumer Reports News: April 17, 2013 05:08 PM

Ignition interlocks have proven effective in preventing intoxicated drivers from starting their car, and now a new system is aiming to do the same for cell-phone users who talk or text behind the wheel.

The system is called Origo, and it requires a driver to secure their phone—facing away from the driver—in a docking station before the car can start. The phone can still connect to Bluetooth and use verbal commands, and it can be charged up while docked. If a driver takes the phone out, an alarm is sounded until the phone is replaced. The next time the driver tries to start the car, they will be unable to do so until an administrator (typically a parent of a teen driver) resets the system.

In addition, if a phone is stolen or lost, a one-time code can be obtained to allow use of the vehicle. If a valet or mechanic needs access to the car, a PIN can be set up for their use.

To learn more about keeping teens safe behind the wheel in our guide to distracted driving and teen car safety.

The cost for the system is $279, plus $150 for installation. Origo has a network of certified installers (which is not yet listed on their website). The company will not warranty a DIY installation.

The device can work with any car, but current can only dock certain smart phones: the Samsung Galaxy S3, and Apple iPhone 4, 4s, and 5. Multiple drivers can use the system, and the administrator can set the phones and codes as needed.

Origo is also available for fleet vehicles with a special package for managers to monitor their drivers' behavior.

Liza Barth

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