September 1, 2011

Oregon teens are familiar with all the games on their cell phones, but they may not know there are actually a lot of beneficial cell phone apps, too. In an attempt to deter distracted driving, the cause of too many car accidents, AT&T and Sprint have added one more: an application that deactivates text messaging and incoming calls to a phone when inside a moving car.

The goal of the feature is to keep drivers from taking their eyes off the road to tend to their cell phones. The apps disable call and text notification sounds — the ding that demands immediate attention.

Sprint’s application is compatible with all Android Phones and AT&T’s only with Blackberries. Both companies are working to adapt the app for other phone models.

AT&T’s app works on the honor system: The driver must activate the feature for it to work. This app allows outgoing calls, but only to five pre-programmed numbers and 911.

The Sprint app kicks in automatically when the car reaches 10 miles per hour. At that point, the user can make no outgoing calls, except to 911, until the phone has stopped moving for a few minutes.

A user can bypass the automatic on. The app will notify another user — like a parent — if the app is deactivated, too. Teen drivers, then, will have to reassure their parents that they are passengers, not drivers.

As always with younger drivers, communication between parent and child is of paramount importance. All the apps in the world can’t take the place of an honest discussion about safe driving.

AT&T’s application is a free download. Sprint charges a nominal monthly fee.

Source: WANE.com, “App takes temptation out of texting while driving,” Sept. 17, 2011


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