Vancouver company and Telus looking to decrease incidences of distracted driving with eBrake app

Jul 01,2017
Tue, Jul 18: A B.C. company has unveiled a new technology that could help prevent deaths from distracted driving. As Grace Ke reports, it takes away the temptation for drivers to use their phones. Distracted driving, according to the statistics, is one law British Columbians break on a massive scale. In an effort to thwart drivers from texting, emailing or holding onto an electronic device, Telus has launched a pilot project with Vancouver-based distracted driving app eBrake. In the next few weeks, eBrake, which locks any device while a vehicle is in motion, will be rolled out to select Telus team members and fleet drivers across Canada.

How does it work?

When eBrake detects any vehicle-related motion, it locks the device. The only way to unlock it is by making a series of gestures and movements that can’t be completed while behind the wheel. “As a provider of the network that powers mobile devices, we have a responsibility to encourage Canadians to make safe smartphone decisions,” Andrea Goertz, chief communications and sustainability officer at Telus, said in a release. “This pilot program will provide additional insights into this new technology so that it can be introduced to all Canadians, underscoring the dangers of phone use while driving and encouraging others to support the cause to end distracted driving.” B.C. ended up with a tough distracted driving law for a good reason — it kills people. “Distracted driving is the second-leading cause of fatality and injury in motor-vehicle collisions in B.C,” RCMP Cpl. Daniela Panesar said at a press conference in March. Distracted driving has always been around but since the advent of technology, the number of cases has increased significantly. “Distraction has always been with us in one form or another but since the introduction of cellphones, in particular smart phones, it’s really exploded in terms of the problems it’s causing on our roads,” ICBC Road Safety program manager Mark Milner said. According to B.C.’s distracted driving regulations, it is against the law to text, email, talk or otherwise hold an electronic device in your hand while operating a motor vehicle, including while being stopped at a red light. Since June 1, 2016, a first-time distracted driving ticket in B.C. will cost you $543 — a $368 fine and four demerit points of $175. A second distracted-driving ticket within 12 months would cost $368. A third offence could cost a driver more than $3,000. In addition, two or more tickets in a 12-month period means an automatic review of the person’s driving record and a possible driving suspension. eBrake is in final testing and preparing for its North American launch in the near future.

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