January 26, 2011

Tackling distracted driving is a matter of national debate, but few would expect six home-schooled children from Londonderry, N.H., to propose a solution so promising they’ve already met with President Obama and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The Inventioneers, as they call themselves, comprise two families of siblings, ages 10 to 16: T.J., Jaiden and Bryeton Evarts, and Paige, Emily and Kate Balcom. Their motto, appropriately, is “inventing to save lives.”

The device that earned them a presidential audience, the SMARTwheel, uses sensors embedded inside a steering wheel cover. When drivers remove one hand from the wheel for too long a period — or both hands — the device beeps and a red light flashes to alert them to draw attention back to the road.

If the children’s precociousness conjures images of M.I.T. whizkids — been there, done that. “We’ve tested our SMARTwheel at M.I.T.’s AgeLab,” said Bryeton, 10. Last March, experiments in the institute’s driving simulator, called Miss Daisy, a Volkswagen New Beetle, showed that 90 percent of the participants found the SMARTwheel effective in changing behavior behind the wheel.


Read the whole story here.

New York Times