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Smartphones Distract Drivers? Then We Need More Smartphones, iOnRoad Says

iOnRoad

Photo of the iOnRoad app. (iOnRoad.com)

The National Transportation Safety Board recently warned that too many drivers have smartphones in cars -- they’re checking Google Maps, placing phone calls, and texting, and it’s making life behind the wheel that much more dangerous.

Yet iOnRoad wants more drivers to keep their smartphones on hand while on the road – for safety purposes, said Alon Atsmon, CEO of iOnRoad manufacturer Picitup.

“If you see the U.S. census data on traffic accidents, you’ll see that 20 percent of crashes are caused by distracted driving,” Atsmon told FoxNews.com. “It’s one of the only traffic causes that’s on the rise – and the main reason for that is the use of smartphones while driving.”

The solution is simple: more smartphones in cars.

“We offer a smarter way to solve the problem – not by recommendations and bans but through the smartphone,” Alon Atsmon, CEO of iOnRoad manufacturer Picitup, told FoxNews.com.

His new app turns that distraction into a safety tool, offering collision warnings, alerts if you drift too far out of your lane in the near future, and even an option to read aloud text messages and automatically start the speakerphone feature if you get a call.

To use the Israeli startup’s iOnRoad app, one mounts their phone in dashboard or windshield mount just like a GPS. The app then uses the camera in the phone to monitor the lane position and distance to the car in front of you, painting that information onto a video feed on the smartphone’s screen.

You don’t need to look at it, however: Drive too close to the car in front of you and the app sounds a warning alarm. If it fears you’re about to crash, it beeps an exclamation meant to warn you of the danger.

“Let’s take this number one problem and turn it into the number one solution,” he said. “Our approach is to turn the smartphone into a collision warning system.”

The app clearly resonates with people. One passerby, upon seeing exactly what it is and how it works, was instantly sold.

“Damn, I need that for my husband!” she shouted aloud.

The app – which won an innovation award at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show – is one of a growing class of smartphone apps that create an “augmented reality.” Such software uses the brains in a smartphone or computer to add a digital layer to the world around us, whether to show you the cost of the shirt someone is wearing on Amazon.com, display reviews of hotels around you from a travel website’s forum – or reveal just how close you are to the car in front of you.

Don’t have a dashboard mount for your phone yet? Don’t worry, iOnRoad will suggest one for you, one specially picked for your smartphone, Atsmon told FoxNews.com. Atsmon plans to sell premium modules in the future that will add extra value to the software, such as a car locator that will help you find your vehicle in a parking lot.

For now, however, the app is totally free. Atsmon says user reports that it works and is effective are payment enough.

“We get back reports that it saved people’s lives,” he said. “That’s more than money.”