As little as a decade ago, nobody had ever heard of the phenomenon of texting while driving, which has since come to claim responsibility for thousands of deaths and half a million accidents every year, according to the Texting Awareness Foundation. Distracted driving is nothing new, what with drivers reading maps, applying makeup, and eating food while operating a moving vehicle for just about as long as the automobile has existed. But texting while driving has become a major problem amongst teen drivers, who seem unable to tear themselves away from their QWERTY keypads, even when they should be paying attention to the road. For many parents this has become even more of a concern than drinking and driving or the peer pressure of having friends in the car. So if you’re looking for a way to stop your kids from engaging in this dangerous activity, here are a few good apps that could just make the difference.
As of yet, there are no integrated systems that give drivers everything they need to avoid texting while driving by simply linking up to the car. While systems like Siri are moving the medium forward, and programs like OnStar and Sync are making inroads where hands-free operation is concerned, your teen could probably benefit a bit more from some of the apps out there aimed at stopping them from reading and responding to messages when they should have their eyes on the road and both hands firmly in the ten and two positions.
AT&T DriveMode is one app that could come in handy where teen drivers are concerned, mainly because it stops all incoming transmissions (calls, texts, emails, and so on) from reaching your teen when the app is active. In addition, it delivers a pre-set message that lets contacts know when a user is driving and that he/she will be unable to respond until the app is disabled. On the upside, it does offer the ability to trade calls with five people on a contact list even while active (although texting is strictly verboten), as well as 911. The only problem is that you must rely on your teen driver to activate this application before driving begins in order for it to have the intended effect.
Luckily, there are a couple of other excellent options. Textecution and Text-STAR are two that work on a similar premise; that drivers shouldn’t be texting when the car is in motion. Along these lines, both cut off the phone’s ability to send and receive text messages any time the speed of 10 mph is exceeded. The latter also allows users to set an auto-reply message for incoming texts on a schedule to go into effect at certain times; so whether your teen will be in the car or he/she doesn’t want to get texts during school hours, this app can manage incoming messages. Of course, you don’t need an industry source to tell you that the best option for most teens is a talk-to-text application, and it is for this reason the DriveSafe.ly app may be the winner. It not only offers pre-set responses to incoming texts, but it also reads messages aloud and allows drivers to respond by voice. In a world where teens want to be connected 24/7, this app could just help to meet both their needs and yours when they’re driving.