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Safe texting while driving: it’s possible

  • Bev texting
Bev Goldman writes on Israeli innovation with South African applications and marketability – read about an amazing new hands free system.
by BEV GOLDMAN | Jan 14, 2016

South Africa’s roads – Johannesburg’s roads – are a formidable, and, in many cases, terrifying obstacle to be navigated with extreme caution, vigilance and mindfulness. 

Taxis; potholes; traffic lights not working; pedestrians forgetting that roads are for cars and pavements are for people; road works; poorly/unmarked roads; 4x4s blocking vision; indicators merely for show – need I go on?  And now of course the newest (or not so new, but certainly most rapidly growing) scourge of the road – cellphones!

Talk or text while driving and you endanger yourself, your passengers and oncoming traffic.  My life, my choice, my decision, you say, so who cares?

Someone does.  Israel does – as only Israel can.  At the fifth annual Mobile Monetization Summit held on December 15 in Tel Aviv, more than 2 000 participants attended; 100 candidates registered in the competition for start-up apps and new technologies in the field of mobile; there were seven finalists; and in 3rd place, a superb achievement was the BAZZ application. Saving lives?  You bet!

The BAZZ application, according to the inventors (who received standing ovations and a myriad of mazeltovs), is a "100% hands free system – operating only with voice commands - that allows the user to receive a text and voice message such as SMS or WhatsApp, listen to the content of the message and respond in four different ways: send a pre-written SMS message, call back the sender, record and send a voice message or do not respond. All actions are done by using voice commands without looking at or touching the device. It initiates automatically when users start driving and goes into standby mode when they finish their journey. Messages can be read from Bluetooth devices and navigation systems fully work with it.”

It’s also absolutely suitable for people with impaired vision; for those who work with both hands all the time (bakers, mechanics, beauty specialists, engineers, so it can be used not only in vehicles but anywhere where it is needed); for those who would prefer to listen to their messages rather than read them – in fact, the possibilities are endless. It currently works in English, Hebrew and Spanish, but plans are afoot to introduce other languages over time. 

BAZZ has also developed the Safe Connect system, an innovative app (can be downloaded in Google Play) which allows companies with vehicle fleets to improve driver safety on the road while increasing connectivity between the companies and their drivers.

As with so many other ‘firsts’ that characterise South Africa, we are also ‘first’ in the world in the number of our road accidents and accompanying fatalities.  But yet again Israel has stepped in with a solution – a product focused on reducing these appalling statistics. 

South Africa has one of the largest telecommunications markets on the continent. The number of cell phones here is larger than the number of citizens in the country.  On average, every one of about 51 million South Africans (babies included) has 1.17 (or so) cell phones. Those are the averages; in real life, some have several handsets, some none, though the latter group is diminishing daily.

In 2010 there were some 10 million registered vehicles on our roads, a number which must since then have increased exponentially.  But even if it hasn’t, just imagine if only 10 or 15 percent of those drivers downloaded the BAZZ app.  Think of how many lives would be saved, how many fewer people would be severely injured, how much safer drivers would feel.  This is truly leading-edge technology – thank you Israel!

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