News

SLU Joins Movement in Preventing Distracted Driving

August 6, 2012
Electrical & Computer Engineering, Parks College News

SLU Shuttle Driver driving a bus with Phone Blox installed.

The new school year brings a new safety product to Saint Louis University’s Billiken shuttle service designed by a student engineer from SLU’s Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology. The shuttle buses that carry students are now equipped with a device that prevents distracted driving. 

With federal, state and municipal laws banning cell phone use by drivers of public transit vehicles, cell phone safety on the Billiken buses is paramount. But it’s not enough to simply say that texting or talking on a cell phone while driving is dangerous. The reality is that the momentary distraction of an incoming call or text is enough to jeopardize the safety of passengers, the job of the driver and the liability of the vehicle owner.

As cell phones become increasingly present in our lives, it is difficult not to respond to them while driving. The National Safety Council estimates that one in every ten drivers is on the phone at any given time. With the Billiken shuttles navigating city streets and highways each day, it is important to ensure student safety and maximize driver focus.

Ginny Foster, creator of Phone BloxGinny FosterBecky MitrovichBecky Mitrovich
Phone Blox unit on Billiken Shuttle BusPhone Blox installs onto vehicles simply and does not jam cell phone signals, which leaves the device on and available for emergency calls.

This is where Phone Blox® comes in. Ginny Foster, a 2012 SLU graduate in electrical engineering, decided to develop this device to prevent distracted driving after having to cross a busy street to get to class.

“Phone Blox® provides drivers with a tool that helps them maintain focus on the road,” says Foster. “As a physical barrier between driver and cell phone, Phone Blox® only allows access to a cell phone after the vehicle is parked and ignition disengaged.”

Phone Blox®features an electromagnetic latching mechanism that locks when a driver turns on the ignition. The box locks when the lid is closed and the ignition is on, preventing access while the vehicle is running. With their cell phone “out of sight, out of mind” drivers can concentrate on driving safely while knowing that in an emergency they still have their cell phone to stay in touch.

Fellow classmate and current SLU junior, Becky Mitrovich, has also been working with Foster over the summer.

“We have been focusing on sharing the story of how Nashville MTA has experienced improvements in safety as a result of Phone Blox®. It’s awesome that SLU is the first university to proactively promote cell phone safety.”

Since its creation, Phone Blox® has won top transportation industry awards and has brought increased safety and cost savings to the city buses in Nashville, Tenn. It will bring increased safety, cost savings and awareness to SLU’s campus.

Students and parents alike will be pleased to know that SLU is the first University to take initiative to encourage transportation safety in this way. There are currently no other universities that have directly addressed the challenge of cell phone safety within their shuttle systems.

To learn more about the Phone Blox®, visit RedLineElectronics.com.

Related Links

Like Phone Blox on Facebook to help prevent distracted driving.

Follow Phone Blox on Twitter to learn more about driver safety.

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