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Plastic Surgeon Frank Ryan Killed by Texting

by Josh Kirschner on August 18, 2010

People Magazine is reporting that Monday's fatal car accident of celebrity surgeon Dr. Frank Ryan was caused by texting. According to the report, Ryan was sending a Twitter message about his border collie when his car went over a Malibu cliff.

It's sad that we need another tragedy, like Frank Ryan's, to remind us of the dangers of texting while driving. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), 22 percent of car accidents in 2009 were caused by cell phone usage, including texting. Yet 40 percent of us still admit to regular cell phone use when driving.

If you just can't seem to stop yourselves from potentially fatal auto-multitasking, perhaps it's time for a technology solution to a technology problem. Solutions come in three basic types:

  1. Dial-In Service
    You phone into a text-to-speech/speech-to-text subscription service, which reads you your emails and lets you compose responses—all through voice command.
  2. Cell Applications
    Apps such as ZoomSafer and TextArrest sense when you’re driving, usually by GPS measuring your speed, and disable most or all of your phone's functionality once a pre-determined speed is reached. All offer some sort of emergency override and passenger-usage exceptions, and some include Web-based cell phone-use monitoring.
  3. Combination Hardware/Apps
    Instead of relying on GPS to sense car usage, a small module gets attached to a part of your car such as the emergency brake or the OBD (on-board diagnostics) module. Once the module is triggered by car usage, a signal disables your phone. Another set of solutions uses a Bluetooth module to enable all-voice and text-to-speech capabilities.

Few of these apps are available for the iPhone because earlier versions of the iPhone operating system didn't support multitasking. With the release of iOS 4 in late June, though, this limitation was fixed and so more apps are expected soon.

Email and Texting Solutions
 Name Type App
Hardware (HW)
Software (SW)
Trigger Subscription Price
cellcontrol disables/monitors App/HW/SW Blackberry
Windows Mobile
speed yes $90
Key2SafeDriving disables/monitors App/HW Blackberry
Windows Mobile
ignition no $99.95
Try Safety First disables App/HW Blackberry
Windows Mobile
no $99
StopTxting disables App Android speed no free
TextArrest disables/monitors App/SW Blackberry
speed yes $4.99/m
ZoomSafer disables  App Blackberry
Windows Mobile
speed yes $25
Dial2Do read/compose service n/a dial-in yes $4/m or
$40/year read/compose App Blackberry
Windows Mobile 7
none no $13.95
iLane read/compose App/HW Blackberry
Windows Mobile
none no $399
Vlingo SafeReader read/compose App Blackberry
none  yes $19.99
Voice on the Go  read/compose service iPhone
dial-in yes $5.99/m or



, News, Phones and Mobile, Phone Accessories, Cell Phones, Travel & Entertainment, Car Tech & Safety, Home Safety & Security

Discussion loading


From Deb Stone on August 19, 2010 :: 1:39 pm

Dear Josh and Suze,
I have been driving since 1963, including across the country twice and into Mexico. I have had one car accident - I was distracted talking business on my cell while driving and I ran a stop sign.  And even with that experience…a cell phone in a car is like ice cream in the freezer…can’t stay away.  So thanks for these recommendations. Driving over a cliff - horrible. Imagine if he had plowed into another car - yours, your spouse, your kid…..



From Jebtolston on August 24, 2010 :: 2:41 pm

Darwin Award perhaps??


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