Teen road safety: Apps that prevent texting while driving
No Cellphones (Atlanta)
By Benjamin Burton Jr.
Smartphones are as ubiquitous as ink pens these days. Everyone is connected and really, you wouldn't have it any other way. Unfortunately, there are some substantial risks to road safety associated with this newfound connectivity. One of the primary risks is loss of focus, and nowhere has this been more publicized than texting while driving.
According to a 2010 study conducted by the National Safety Council, about 30 percent of all car accidents were directly attributed to cell phone usage, with many of these accidents involving teens. In fact, car accidents continue to be the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. There are number of ways you can help reduce your teen's risks, primarily by teaching him/her habitually safe driving habits.
It's not hard to see how cell phone usage among younger drivers has helped to maintain these shockingly high numbers. With that in mind, you'll find a list of apps below that will temporarily disable your teen's smartphone while he/she is in the car.
This is one of the more extreme apps available on the text prevention spectrum. Basically, it completely deactivates your cellphone while it's traveling at driving speed (nine miles per hour or whatever speed the user selects). Keep in mind that it doesn't just stop incoming calls or texts. It turns your phone off, completely. No games, no other apps, no emergency calls. Nothing.
There are a number of pricing packages available ranging from free to about $30. Functionality and customization are largely dependent on price point, however.
Like PhonEnforcer, Textecution is activated based on the speed the phone is moving at. Unlike PhonEnforcer, this app only disables texting functions, preventing your teen from sending or receiving texts while driving. Permission to disable must be requested from the parent as soon as the app initiates.
Another cool and potentially lifesaving feature is that parents are notified via SMS if Textecution is uninstalled.
Of the three apps mentioned so far, iZup (pronounced "eyes-up") is the best reviewed overall. The app is enabled when teens exceed five miles per hour but still allows three white listed numbers, one other functioning app (usually GPS/navigation) as well as 911 emergency calls.
Another feature unique to iZup is that it allows your teen to make any regular phone calls after dialing 911 without having to disable the app separately.
This app has one major advantage over any of the others previously mentioned--it's free to download. The developers (Safe Operating Solutions) also claim to have solved the "passenger use issue" though they fail to mention how they've done so on their website.
Besides the expected disabling of the texting function at a predetermined speed, this app also disables Gmail, other email clients and your phone's browser.
We all want those we care about to remain safe on the road, and a large part of road safety is proper maintenance, ensuring that you vehicle does what you expect it to when you want.
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