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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Thursday, July 10, 2014

Apps That Help Prevent Texting While Driving

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


Parents of teen drivers have yet more weapons in their arsenal when it comes to keeping their kids safe behind the wheel.

I told you recently about a pay service called Textecution.com that disables texting while driving. But at $30, this app is more on the expensive end of the marketplace. Trinity-Noble's Guardian Angel is another paid service that shuts down phones when a vehicle is moving for $10 per phone per month.

A cheaper way to stop distracted driving

Now I've read about a cheaper entrant into the marketplace. For example, TxtShield sells for $1.99 and keeps you from using your phone while you're driving, but it's only for Android.

The way these things generally work is that when a car goes over 10 miles per hour, the app blocks emailing, texting, browsing, and even common calling. It only allows calls to 911. So basically, this app makes a phone inoperable while in motion.

There's often an override for a passenger that requires someone other than the driver to go through an Attention Verification Test. The test is reportedly too complex to go through while driving.

No matter how many times you tell your kids not to use their cell phones while in the car, they do it anyway. In fact, The Detroit News  reports the following alarming tidbit: "26 percent of teens read or send a text message from a smartphone at least once every time they drive, whereas only 1 percent of parents believe their teen does this."

I plan to use these kinds of apps or whatever technology exists when my middle daughter starts driving soon. Because the temptation is just too great to look down when your phone chirps and see the latest message.

How dangerous is texting while driving really?

A Virginia Tech study on truck drivers find they are 23 times more likely to be in an accident when texting.

People take their eyes off the road for 5 seconds to read the average text. During that time, a vehicle moving at highway speeds can travel the length of a football field, according to the Governor's Highway Safety Association.

Think about how much territory you'll cover in that short time. All you need is a sudden stop in traffic or someone to change lanes to spell disaster.

The New York Times also reports that Utah now has a new law that will send texters involved in fatal auto accidents to prison for 15 years. It's very easy to subpoena a cell phone company and check your account to see if you were texting.

Let's face it, most everybody who has a smartphone looks at it while driving. Years ago, when I got my first phone with e-mail capabilities, I read them all the time while I drove. It took a near collision with a jogger to make me change my ways.



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