ZoomSafer nabs $1M to help drivers focus

Matt Bowman · April 12, 2010 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/ef4

Mobile software detects when a user is on the road and switches the phone to safe-drive mode.

ZoomSafer, a Virginia-based developer of safe-driving software for mobile devices, has raised a $1 million Series A round from Sugar Oak Holdings, a Real-estate investment firm also based in Virginia. Sugar Oak’s CEO Daniel Baker has joined Zoomsafer’s board. No other investors were named, but the company previously raised $1.25 million in seed capital.

Once downloaded to a mobile phone, ZoomSafer detects when the user is driving and automatically puts the phone into safe drive mode. Inbound alerts are suppressed and the phone’s keypad and screen are locked to eliminate the temptation to text, email or dial while driving. Customizable and services include auto-replies to incoming texts and emails to let others know that you’re driving, one-touch access to voice dialer for making hands-free outbound calls, and receipt of hands-free inbound calls from priority contacts.

Given the onslaught of addicting mobile capabilities, I would likely opt-in to a service like Zoomsafer for convenience sake, and for the ability to ignore phone calls with social impunity. However, it’s not clear that a service like Zoomsafer would actually make driving safer.

A recent study from the Highway Loss Data Institute, sponsored by insurance companies, found that laws forbidding motorists from using hand-held phones or texting while driving don't result in a significant decrease in vehicle crashes. In my research for this post, I expected to pull some stats on the increased accidents caused by texting and cell phone calling, but was surprised to find the best research points in the other direction. Upshot: as long as this remains a consumer or corporation-facing service, and resists the temptation to lobby government for greater restrictions (they are based in Virginia afterall), I remain a fan of the idea.

CEO Matt Howard says I need not worry. "As a young and innovative software company we’re focused on developing policy software so corporations and parents can administer mobile phones," he said in an email. "While we don’t formally lobby the legislative process – we do work in conjunction with various trade groups including CTIA, CEA, NOYS, Safe Kids and NAFA to support the cause."  

The basic service costs $2.99 per month or you can buy it permanently for $25 one-time. The added VoiceMate feature that lets drivers send text messages and emails while driving costs an additional $3.99 per month or $40 per year. The software works on Blackberry and selected Windows Mobile devices, with support for Android, iPhone and others coming soon.

The company will use the new financing to expand marketing and sales and deliver enhanced policy controls and analytics to corporate and consumer customers.

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