“No cell phone call is worth dying for”

Mar 30, 2010, 9:50 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

The law that bans holding a cell phone to talk or text while driving doesn’t take effect in Washington state for a couple of months, but one mom has learned the hard way that no call is worth it.

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“I had to go to the morgue to see my son. It was unbearable pain and at first you have a numbness about you, then your mind shuts down, says Rose Monreal. Her 17-year-old son Steven died in a car crash.

She says he was talking on a cell phone with his girlfriend before the accident. He dropped the phone, unbuckled his seatbelt to reach it and lost control of his car, rolling it 10 times.

That accident was seven years ago. Monreal is dealing with the grief by telling her story with the hope that other parents won’t have to go through the same thing. Monreal’s book, called The Shattered Heart, is being released today.

“My husband and I woke up six months after the accident, we hadn’t gotten out of the house at all and he just said, ‘Rose we have a choice today we can either die or we have to get up and go on living.'” she says. “Steven would have wanted us to live a better life.”

Monreal says “her heart has been shattered,” and she still gets angry every time she sees someone holding a phone while driving.

“I see them and think, ‘Oh my gosh don’t they realize they have their life in their hand right now along with the others who are along side them on the road,'” Monreal says.

As you can imagine, she supports Washington’s law making talking on a cell phone a primary offense. And she says to anyone who thinks they can drive and make a quick phone call…

“If you’re texting or you’re on the phone, this could be your last day on earth.”

50 percent of teens admit they’ve held their cell phone to carry on conversations while driving, according to a Pew research study. That research also found 28 percent of fatal car crashes involving teens are the result of cell phone use.

Where there’s a problem, some companies are trying to create a solution. Several startups have created applications for cell phones to stop people from texting or talking on the phone while driving.

Here are 3 of the top apps:

  • Cellcontrol uses a $60 device that plugs into the car’s diagnostics system. The phone connects to the device, and when it detects the car is moving, it sends out a signal to lock the phone from texting or calling. The system works on BlackBerry phones and those running Windows Mobile software.
  • DriveSafe.ly has a counter on their website that shows the number of “potential accidents prevented” because of their product – 106,412,000+ they claim, and counting. This one doesn’t try to turn off your phone, instead, the app reads your income text messages aloud. They make a free version that will read the first 25 words of a text message. Their upgrade costs about $13 bucks to buy and then you can hear the whole message.
  • Illume Software makes iZup, which uses a phone’s GPS chip to determine if the car is in motion and then blocks if from texting or calling. This system costs about $50 per year.

I’m waiting for a company to make an app that blocks other drivers from being on the phone while driving.

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“No cell phone call is worth dying for”