SEATTLE - It’s the fear of nearly all parents - teens behind the wheel with a cell phone in their hands. In fact, one in four teens admits to checking his or her phone while driving at least once a day.
But what it they couldn’t without an unpleasant consequence?
That's the idea behind a device called OrigoSafe, which makes the dangerous practice of texting and driving difficult and undesirable.
OrigoSafe is an ignition interlock system that turns your child's cell phone into a second car key.
"You put your cell phone in a docking station that's connected to your ignition and your parking brake," says David Musyt, marketing director with Virginia-based Origo. "You cannot start your vehicle without (placing) the phone in the docking station."
If the driver takes the phone out of the dock while driving, an alarm sounds until the phone is replaced. That's when your teenager's real problems begin.
Undocking the phone "unauthorizes" it as a key. Next time the driver tries to start the car, it won't work. The driver will have to call home and get a new one-time code from Mom or Dad.
"So not only do they have to call their parents to get authorization to restart the car," Musyt says, "but they also have to have a discussion with that parent about distracted driving."
That awkward conversation is the real deterrent to chatting or texting behind the wheel, Musyt says.
"We've let a lot of very bright teenagers try to defeat our unit, and they have not been able to go around it," Musyt says.
Origo hopes the product will catch on in Washington state, which has some of the most restrictive distracted driving laws in the country
Musyt says OrigoSafe is not just for parents and kids. Businesses that operate vehicle fleets may wish to install the device, too.
A phone docked in the OrigoSafe faces away from the driver. But it will still work with Blue Tooth devices, allowing for hands-free operations.
OrigoSafe costs $274 for the hardware, and another $125 for installation.