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State Farm files patent for system to suppress calls and text while driving

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Insurance | Technology
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State Farm has filed a patent for a system that suppresses calls and notifications to a driver’s phone while they are operating a motor vehicle, according to patent documents recently published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. 

“An increasing number of motor vehicle accidents occur each year as a result of drivers using their mobile devices,” the patent says. “Drivers frequently talk on their cellular phones or send and receive text messages while driving. Such behaviors pose significant hazards to the drivers themselves as well as nearby drivers of other motor vehicles, passengers, pedestrians, and sometimes property.” 

The patent goes on to outline how insurance premiums are based on driver risk. 

“The auto insurance industry carries a portion of the risk posed by the drivers who use their mobile devices while they drive,” the patent says. 

The patent stops short of saying if State Farm would monitor the system and create premium reductions or discounts based on usage, similar to the way most major insurers allow policyholders to opt-in to the usage of apps that track data, such as speed, acceleration, and braking. 

State Farm gives three options for how a driver’s phone could connect to the system: 

    • Bluetooth interface configured to connect to a device associated with the vehicle 
    • Wireless communication interface configured to receive wireless communication from a remote device
    • A processer coupled to the wireless communication interface and the Bluetooth interface

After being connected by one of the three options, the system would suppress any notifications once it determines the vehicle is operating. It could be determined the vehicle is in operation by tracking speed and location data, the patent says. 

The patent presents possible options for emergency calls to bypass the system. This includes giving a caller a voice prompt to enter a bypass code in case of an emergency. 

As part of a recent Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for advanced impaired driving prevention technologies, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that distracted driving caused 12,405 fatalities in 2021 and a societal cost of $158 billion.

A Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT) report shows apps drivers are most likely to be distracted by include Instagram (24%), camera and WhatsApp (combined 20%), YouTube (19%), and phone (15%).

Usage was most prevalent by drivers ages 30-44:

    • Instagram, 28%
    • WhatsApp, 26%
    • Camera, 24%
    • Facebook, 20%
    • Facebook Messenger, 19%
    • Gmail, Google Chrome, Adobe Acrobat Reader, YouTube, and Afterpay – combined usage by nearly 20% of drivers.


Photo courtesy of youngvet/iStock

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