Driving Safely With ZoomSafer

October 29, 2009 | By | 20 Comments

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I had the opportunity to test out ZoomSafer for two weeks on two different networks. And to be perfectly honest, I am impressed. Now I know there’s going to be the argument, why not just turn your phone off? The truth is we have become used to being connected at all times to the world of technology.

In the weeks and months to come, you are going to hear even more about it, whether it’s an announcement or a news story. States are starting to jump on the bandwagon, and you can be fined in those states with a DWT. And I’m sure you can relate, you’re driving and you hear the friendly beep of your phone with a text, could be your boss or your spouse. Just  a second to read it is all it can take to take your eyes off the road and an accident before you know it. The problem is that we’ve all become accustomed to multitasking. At work we have our pc’s, our smartphones, and at home we have our pc’s, carrying conversations, our pda’s, and we just get used to it. We bring our pda’s with us, and the temptation just seems so natural to have it lure you where it’s not safe. You know it’s true. A study by Nationwide Insurance brought forth the following numbers: 46 percent of 16/17 year old drivers admit to texting while driving; 37 percent of ages 18 to 27 admit to texting while driving; 14 percent of 28 to 44 year olds; and 2 percent of 45 to 60 year olds admit it. It makes you really think. If you are caught DWT in Washington, the fine is $101 , but get caught in Oregon next year if the state legislature has it’s way, and you’re looking at a $720 fine.

So in light of all the publicity and announcements coming your way, I’m bringing you the results and information about an app I reviewed, ZoomSafer.

There’s the cell phone and there’s the BlueTooth. And there’s driving in the car then there’s ZoomSafer. It’s an app for your BlackBerry that you can register on their site and download the app. I had the opportunity to try both the current beta and the testing beta. I really was surprised at what it does and what lies in it’s future.

Right now with the number of accidents being attributed to texting while driving, this is a good time to start taking control. The app currently allows you to choose three priority contacts to call you while you’re driving. And the new improved version allows ringtones, or voicetones of your loved ones or yourself reminding you to stay focused on the road.

I have spoken with law enforcement officials and they all confirm what we are reading. Most accidents are occur because of cell phone usage of calls or texts while driving, or even worse…drinking while texting and driving. So while we say we just turn the phone off, we more or less have to realize that we are highly addicted to our modern technology. We keep it with us everywhere we go, but we need to remember that a few seconds is a bat of an eye, and on the road anything can happen when you are in control of a moving vehicle.

I tried it on the BlackBerry Tour and the Bold. It turns on as soon as you have been driving a few minutes. It has two messages by default and will soon include celebrity announcements. When a priority contact calls, it will alert you. In the future it will announce the number, not just priority contact. This way you will not be distracted to look at your phone. You will be able to place the voicenote of that person as well.  If anyone else calls or tries to text, they will go straight to voicemail or receive a text-reply notifying them that you are driving and that you will return the text as soon as you are not driving. You can have the app post to facebook or twitter to automatically update your status and notify your social networking friends when you are driving. You can also have it text or email your priority contacts to let them know you’re driving.

When someone emails you, this is the response you will receive: “I received your email, but am currently driving and focused on the road. Try ZoomSafer for free at www.zoomsafer.com.” The text states: “___  received your text but is driving and focused on the road. Try ZoomSafer for free at www.zoomsafer.com” .

It’s a nice tool, I thought it worked really well. One thing I wanted to test out was the BlackBerry Messenger. This app suppresses all alerts with the exception of priority contacts calling. I thought that some support for the messenger would be nice and that was my suggestion, even if all it could do is change status.

To download ZoomSafer, you have to register online. Then after you set up your settings and perimeters, the link is sent to your phone for you to download the app. It runs in the background, turning on when you drive if you don’t manually turn it on. It welcomes you back, and it suppresses alerts. You can even have it post that you are driving on your Facebook and your Twitter. I did notice that the only alert it didn’t suppress was messenger alert on BerryBuzz. That was one alert I still received through the app.

While driving, it will alert you when you are receiving a call from a priority contact either reading out the number or using your selected voicetone. I like this idea as you know who’s calling. One of my friends tried calling me and it went to my voicemail. She then tried to text me to tell me how neat it was and it texted her back as well, letting her know I was driving.

I was able to test the V1.5 version prior to release and all I can say is that it’s a great solution. I am much more aware of my phone habits now while driving.

But what if I am the passenger? If you’re a passenger you can simply put ZoomSafer into snooze mode. Upon exiting, there is an icon which has a caution sign for passengers and puts ZoomSafer policies into snooze mode for however many minutes you want. The caution icon is there to help you think twice if you’re thinking of using it while driving.

Matt Howard and Michael Costello are the founders of this great app, and have a lot of vision in it. I was able to have a conference call with them, and I’m really excited with the progress they’ve made with it, and the plans they have for it in the future. The recently released version 1.5 represents the stage two beta and includes the following:

Three Priority Contacts – You can enter up to three Priority Contacts who will be able to call and interrupt you while you are driving. If a priority contact calls you while you are driving we will announce the call via a generic ZoomRinger. In phase 2 of the beta you will be able to create custom ZoomRingers for each of your priority contacts.
Inbound phone call management – While you are driving, we will suppress ringer/notification of all inbound callers who are not listed as Priority Contacts.
Inbound email/text message management – While you are driving, we will suppress messaging-related inbound alerts.
Auto-Responses – While you are driving, if people try and contact you via phone, email or text – they will receive an auto-response notifying them that you are focused on the road and driving with ZoomSafer.
Phase two of the beta will commence in early November and will include the following productivity and personalization features:
ZoomSafer Voice Safety Portal – While driving with your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel you’ll be able to use your voice to create, listen to, and reply to e-mails and text messages. You’ll also be able to use your voice to update Twitter and Facebook as well as listen to additional content services such as news, weather, and sports feeds.
User defined inbound calling – You’ll have even more control to decide who can call you when you’re driving.
ZoomRingers – You’ll be able to have your personal contacts record a ZoomRinger that plays when they call you. You will no longer have to look at your phone to know who is calling. If a call does not have a ZoomRinger associated with it, ZoomSafer will read the phone number to you.
Priority Text Messages and Emails – When you receive a text message or e-mail from a Priority Contact, you will be told audibly about the message and asked whether you want to listen to it.

Auto activates when driving with opt-out for passengers.

Plays personalized safety announcements reminding drivers to focus on the road.

Locks keypad to prevent texting or typing and reinforces hands-free behavior.

Suppresses inbound text and email alerts and auto replies to sender.

Permits inbound calls from up to 20 priority contacts.

Announces incoming priority callers with custom voice ringtone.

Suppresses non-priority inbound calls, sends to voice mail, and auto replies to caller.

Provides one button access to hands-free voice activated dialing and 911.

Supports Bluetooth headsets and car kits.

Optionally shares driver’s status via email, text, Facebook, or Twitter.

When you arrive at your destination, you must manually press the button to end ZoomSafer and you have two options: I am the driver and have reached my destination, or I am the passenger and I am going to use the phone. Of course choose the driver and you’re done.

The I really like this app for several reasons. One, you can choose priority contacts who can call you. Two, it helps resist the temptation of reading your messages. If you read and text while driving, studies prove you are 23% more apt to get in an accident. The app may be a crutch, but a necessary one for some of us. We are so used to being available at all times, this leaves us to be available to those who are most important. It’s also so simple to register. It’s painless, and can save a life and a fine. The other alternative is to silence your phone or turn it off. The most important thing to remember is this….distracted driving is a problem, and there are options. And it’s all up to you.

You can watch videos about ZoomSafer from the ZoomSafer YouTube here >

You can view the video with introduction on ZoomSafer and how to start using it >

You can register for ZoomSafer here >

[rating: 4.8/5]

Is anyone curious about it and going to try it? Have you tried ZoomSafer? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us.

Filed in: Beta, BlackBerry, Downloads, Software | Tags: , , ,

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  • travis

    Have you tried drivesafe.ly (..thats the web address also)?? ..The free version will read the first 25 words of sms & email to you when they arrive.. no need to pick up the phone when driving.. it also has speed detection to know when to activate.

    As far as sending sms, etc while driving; I use vlingo.. again, completely voice activated sms / email, no need to take your eyes off the road.

    Together they make a great combination!

  • Susan C

    Travis,

    I haven’t tried the drivesafe.ly as of yet, but I’m very happy to see we are all taking precautions to do our best to avoid distracted driving. I think it’s great that there are choices out there and that we are not limited to one application.

  • regalde

    But shouldn’t you also be posting information about its technical flaws??
    The slowing down in normal cell fone usage..battery issues…and a lack of customization
    It even deleted my incoming texts.. and when i decided to uninstall the app..it just bunged my cell

  • Susan C

    regalde,

    To be honest, your carrier has a lot to do with the app. With gsm phones such as AT & T, it’s fine. But with Verizon’s, it’s slow, but as I understand it’s partially due to the CDMA and some restrictions. There’s a lag with Verizon, but I tested it on both and the app does work. But it would be unfair for me to use the lag and issues because of a carrier.

  • regalde

    well susan you are right on that point, but when it came to customer support from ZoomSafer, their was just no help coming. Couldn’t even get the thing uninstalled myself, finally ended up taking it to a professional and paying to get it removed.

  • http://www.zoomsafer.com Matt Howard

    Hi Regalde:

    I am sorry to hear that you had technical challenges with ZoomSafer. I am also sorry that customer support was somehow unsatisfactory.

    We work everyday to collect and respond to user feedback (good, bad, indifferent) from thousands of folks. This user feedback was critical to the success of our public beta. As you would expect, there were numerous bugs that were identified and fixed during this beta. There were also numerous feature enhancements that we’ve since implemented based on user feedback. Specifically, we have implemented a much broader range of custom configurations so you have maximum flexibility over the safe driving policies that you apply for yourself as an individual, your child as a parent, your employees as an employer.

    As a young company, we’re constantly working to improve on all fronts. I am truly disappointed that you had an unsatisfactory experience and, if you would be willing, i’d greatly appreciate the opportunity to talk with you to learn more about your issues so we can prevent them from happening again.

    Thanks in advance.

    Matt Howard
    Founder and CEO
    matt@zoomsafer.com

  • http://www.zoomsafer.com Mike Costello

    Regalde –

    I’m a co-founder and COO of ZoomSafer and want to also apologize for your user experience with ZoomSafer. I’m responsible for building the product and customer care and want you to know that we apprecite all comments (good and bad) and since we’re such a young company take the negative stuff very seriously.

    I very much want to figure out exactly what was going on with your experience so we can fix whatever the issues were. Can you please send me a note to mikec@zoomsafer.com to describe your issues?

    Also, and FYI for everyone else looking for help with ZoomSafer, we have three primary support channels:
    – Our website (www.zoomsafer.com) with product information and a long FAQ
    – Our active community site where credentialed users can go to discuss all things ZoomSafer in an open, monitored forum
    – Our support email address (support@zoomsafer.com) that’s always monitored.

    Cheers – I look forward to hearing from you,

    Mike Costello
    Co-Founder and COO
    ZoomSafer
    mikec@zoomsafer.com

  • Susan C

    regalde,

    I empathize with you, but Matt was very helpful and I had no issues with customer service while I tried the application on both cell providers. As far as removing it, there are so many ways to remove an app, what handset were you using? An official or leaked OS? There are many factors that play into an app, into removal, but I was really surprised to hear that customer service wasn’t up to par, because I had not experienced that. I can honestly say they were quick to answer questions, and extremely supportive.

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  • http://www.textndrive.com/textingwhiledriving.php Diana Morgan

    I think it’s good that some developers have come up with innovative solutions to fight texting while driving. It’s a dangerous and irresponsible way to drive. In all the texting applications offered on the market, I particularly like Text’nDrive better than the one mentioned in this article for the fact that it reads emails and text messages, and that they list on their website any new texting laws in the U.S. A really nice app!!

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