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New device could put the brakes on distracted driving

The Department of Transportation estimates that accidents caused by distracted drivers last year, including those on cell phones, killed more than 3,000 people
Device blocks texting, emails, social media in cars 04:00

Diane Misgen knows the terrible cost of distracted driving all too well.

"It changed my world in a matter of a second when I got that phone call," Misgen told CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen.

In May 2008, Misgen's husband Dave was driving to a business meeting -- a meeting he never reached because he was struck and killed by a teenage driver who ran a red light while distracted, likely by his phone.

That meeting was supposed to be with Scott Tibbits, a Colorado entrepreneur looking for new business ventures.

AAA: Hands-free devices can still cause distracted driving 02:09

"That's the event, you know, that changed my life, and changed Diane's life," said Tibbits.

But the tragedy inspired Tibbits to take action.

"It just created this question that wouldn't let go... this is going to be a big problem, it's going to get much worse, thousands of people are going to get killed," Tibbits said. "What's going to be the ultimate solution? It just wouldn't let go, this idea."

Seven years later, Tibbits has now turned that idea into the "Groove" -- a small box that plugs into almost any modern car, effectively blocking the driver's phone from sending or receiving any data.

Phone calls go through, but not texts, emails or social media.

While apps to block messages while driving already exist, Tibbits said his idea is a game changer.

"When you take everything up into the cloud and you don't have to have that app on the phone, it changes everything. That all happens when you take it up at the network level and do it from the network side of things," Tibbits said.

By involving the driver's cell phone carrier, the system cuts off tempting messages at their source and doesn't deliver them until the car is turned off. But that also means Tibbits has to get mobile networks to cooperate -- something that, despite years of successful testing and demonstrations, he still hasn't been able to do.

"Well, there's legal issues. Phone companies have to make sure they have protections in place so they don't get sued," Tibbits said. "There's just the fact that we're touching their network, which they're not always comfortable with."

Still, having the potential to stop a problem and knowing that "you're in the middle of something and you want it to be out there," Tibbits said the phone companies' hesitation is frustrating.

"Being a parent, I cannot imagine getting a phone call that says there's been an accident," Tibbits said, unable to hold back emotions. "And everybody that's in this is in this because those phone calls are going to go away."

For Diane Misgen, memories of that phone call will never go away, but Tibbits' invention gives her hope for the future.

She said she believes it would have spared her husband's life.

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