A huge number of drivers admit to texting while behind the wheel, but if one former rocket scientist has his way, they won't be able to for much longer.

American entrepreneur and inventor Scott Tibbitts is the brains behind 'Groove', a tiny electronic device that plugs into cars, connects to the Internet, and cuts off the driver's mobile communications in order to prevent incoming calls and notifications from coming through.

According to Tibbitts, Groove is compatible with most cars made after 1996 and simply requires the user to register their vehicle with the service. Once the engine is started, the device automatically sends a message to the driver's mobile carrier notifying them to hold any calls or messages. At the journey's end, Groove contacts the carrier once more, and normal mobile service resumes.

Tibbitts, a former chemical engineer who used to supply spacecraft components to NASA, came up with the idea after an abortive business meeting in 2008. The person he was supposed to meet never turned up because he had been killed in a collision with a teenage driver who ran a red light while texting.

"I got there and he'd been killed a couple of hours before," Tibbitts told Josie Taylor at the ABC. "It started this process of thinking, 'What's the solution going to be?'"

Tibitts is currently in Australia to hold talks with telecommunications and insurance companies about releasing Groove into the local market, but he may face an uphill battle in getting drivers to quit the dangerous habit.

Despite the risks and illegality, texting while driving is extremely prevalent in many countries. In Australia, approximately one third of drivers admit to sending messages while behind the wheel. The problem is particularly ingrained with young drivers, with two thirds of drivers under 25 years of age admitting that they text while in control of their vehicles.

Data from the US is even more troubling, with statistics from the Department of Transportation indicating that mobile phones are involved in a stunning 1.6 million car crashes per year, responsible for half a million injuries and 6,000 deaths annually.

Perhaps the most promising strategy to encourage drivers to use products like Groove is for device makers to partner with insurance companies, where drivers could be offered lower insurance premiums in recognition of them having a mobile safety device installed in their vehicle.

"We see an increasing amount of claims where the accident is likely to have been caused by drivers texting," Richard Heilig of Hollard Insurance told Taylor. "It's kind of a breakthrough technology… we think it will go some ways towards improving driver behaviour".