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Government As Texas votes on texting ban, Plano company shines mirror on distracted...

As Texas votes on texting ban, Plano company shines mirror on distracted driving

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Reflection Band LLC

3100 Independence Pkwy.

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The Texas House is once again pushing for a statewide ban on texting while driving after efforts in previous years either fizzled out or were vetoed.

The attempt follows an increase in U.S. motor vehicle deaths last year which topped 40,000 for the first time since 2007 as cheap gasoline and a healthy economy encouraged motorists to drive more, according to new estimates released Feb. 20 by the National Safety Council. Fingers were also pointed at distracted drivers, in particular mobile phone use behind the wheel.

The National Safety Council, a nonprofit safety advocacy group, also released survey findings showing that 47 percent of motorists are comfortable texting while driving. Some 10 percent of drivers reported driving drunk, and 43 percent of them were involved in a crash while impaired, the group said. The survey also found that 16 percent said they don’t wear seatbelts on every trip, while 25 percent are comfortable speeding on residential streets.

“These results underscore how our complacency is killing us,” Deborah Hersman, chief executive of the National Safety Council, said during a press conference. She added that a 3 percent rise in vehicle miles traveled fails to fully explain the 6 percent rise in deaths seen last year.

Others are pointing to the increased use of mobile technology while behind the wheel. According to Robert Gordon, a senior vice president of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, insurance companies, which closely track auto accidents, are convinced that the biggest cause of the rise in road fatalities is the increasing use of electronic devices while driving.

To stem the tide, the National Safety Council renewed a call for a total ban on mobile phone use behind the wheel, even hands-free systems. It also called for mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers, a three-tiered driver licensing system for all new drivers under 21, and other steps to curb crashes.

The ban on mobile phone use behind the wheel finds some support with Plano-based Reflection Band LLC.

Reflection Band doesn’t have the answer to distracted drivers, but the company does provide a simple way to remind drivers to focus on driving. The company’s main product is a simple elastic band that fits over the rearview mirror to reinforce good driving habits with messages like “Arrive Alive” or “DON’T TEXT and DRIVE.” The band has been utilized by numerous agencies for their statewide traffic safety programs and campaigns, including the New Mexico Department of Transportation, Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, Connecticut Department of Transportation and Virginia Department of Transportation. In January, the company officially opened its online store to provide the technology to consumers. The reflection band with the message can be installed around the rearview mirror frame of any car or truck. Consumers can choose from several creative designs, bright colors and lifesaving messages.

The company got its start in 2014 after its co-founder, Paul G. Marcus, saw that a friend had written “Don’t Text and Drive” with a marker on his teenage daughter’s rearview mirror.

“Paul was impressed with the idea, but realized that writing text with a pen on a rearview mirror of a car posed a different set of problems,” said Frank J. Rosello, CEO and co-founder of Reflection Band. Marcus began work on a product design that would deliver a lifesaving message, utilizing a car’s rearview mirror, but would do so in a safe, unobtrusive, and non-distracting manner.

“With enhanced technology and connectivity in automobiles, distracted driving has become the norm and leads to thousands of unnecessary vehicle crashes and deaths every year,” Rosello said. “And, since people in crashes rarely admit they were using their phones, or tragically die, the statistics aren’t properly tracking how many crashes and fatalities are actually caused by distracted driving. Clearly, it’s a systemic problem and more needs to be done to help deter it.”

The band is manufactured using a high-grade silicon rubber and engineered to fit any year, make and model of passenger automobile or truck. It is also resistant to the extreme heat of Del Rio summers or the cold of Amarillo winters. The bands are priced at $5.50, but quantity discounts and custom designs are also available.

Rosello says the problem of distracted driving may be an even a bigger factor in motor vehicle accidents that most realize. Research compiled by AT&T asserts that drivers are not only texting. Four-in-10 drivers tap into social media, 3-in-10 surf the net and 1-in-10 video chat. Overall, 7-in-10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving, according to the research.

Sales have increased since the company began shipping the patented product. – The Washington Post contributed to this report.

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