USA Today is reporting that Fred Wenz, a deliveryman for UPS for 23 years, has turned his frustration with drivers on cellphones into a safety business venture.
While on a run a few years ago, he came up with the idea for a device that blocks cell signals around a driver's seat. It's modeled on ignition locks that make a convicted drunken driver blow into an alcohol tester before the car will run.
"I witness it every day on the road, and I just thought, 'There has to be a way that you can prevent this electronically,' " says Wenz, 40.
Wenz and longtime friend John Fischer have formed Try Safety First and filed a provisional patent on what they call the owner compliance key (or OCK) late last year.
The device blocks signals to and from cellphones for a 5-foot radius, effectively the space around a driver's seat. It also can be set to be effective only on a secondary key, such as one a parent gives a teen.
In the last two years, the duo have invested $250,000 into a working prototype and now are seeking venture capital for the device that could cost as little as $10 per vehicle when in production.
"We could be selling this into millions of cars if this can catch on," says Fischer, 46.
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