Esurance now offers a technology solution designed to block mobile phone calls, texts, e-mail, Internet and other smartphone applications for drivers while the car is in motion.

The technology attempts to reduce distracted driving hazards as statistics continually point out the dangers; for American teens, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. In 2011, 3,331 people were killed, and an additional 387,000 people were injured, in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.

“Distracted driving of all kinds is a critical problem,” said Robert Passmore, senior director of personal lines policy for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). “This is a great example of how our members have led the way on auto safety issues. PCI has long supported efforts to promote awareness of the issue and technology is one tool that people can use to protect themselves, their passengers and fellow motorists from the hazards of distracted driving.”

Esurance customers can download the free app and plug the device into their car’s OBD port. Users then configure settings for devices they want to control. The device engages when the car is moving and limits mobile-device activity; usage is blocked until the car is completely stopped. The app uses non-pairing Bluetooth technology from Cellcontrol and works with Android, Blackberry, most Windows phones and other select non-smart phones. An iPhone-compatible app soon will be available, the company said.

The app can send e-mail notifications if the device is disabled or removed, or if someone attempts to delete the app or switch off Bluetooth functionality.

According to Esurance, customized settings enable parents to:

Define what to block. Texts, e-mail, phone calls and apps are blocked by default, but users can enable calls via a hands-free device or headset

Enable web apps. Users are able to define which apps can be used, including music and navigation apps, when the device is in blocking mode

Block all but emergency calls. Users can enable dialing 911 while behind the wheel

Create a white list. Users can define what numbers the app won’t block

A separate “What If Calculator,” an online tool that offers customers personalized estimates of their insurance premiums, is intended to help customers make smarter choices about their car insurance and demonstrates the effects of events on their premium and coverage.

Esurance does the math and shows the before and after premium personalized for each customer for the following scenarios:

Tickets — various types of traffic tickets or moving violations can impact rates differently; for example, a driver can see how a reckless driving violation increases their premium

Accidents — an accident-related claim can impact premiums

Changing vehicles — certain cars that have safety features, such as passive restraints and airbags, can help lower a premium

Moving — moving to a different ZIP Code in the same state can often change a premium

The “What If Calculator” calculates estimates using common assumptions about coverage levels, driving record, mileage, length of ownership period and bodily injury limits; it is intended for informational purposes, and changes will not be made to the policy, Esurance said.

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