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Phone app shuts down texting in cars

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Though it might be illegal in some states, teens still do it. That’s texting while driving. A Cherry Hill company says it has a simple solution — a smart phone application that allows parents to turn off texting while their kid is in a moving car.

(Photo: AP)

For $4.99 a month, the Text Zapper app will shut down texting capabilities when a phone is moving more than ten miles per hour. The idea is to give parents reassurance their teens aren’t distracted while driving. The Text Zapper program can be turned on and off through a secure website, so passengers can continue to message while on board cars. Larry Wenger is the president of TMG Systems, which developed the app.

Wenger: Our business goal is to help reduce the risk of teen driving. Teen driving is a serious issue in our country right now. Distractions. We gear this towards teenagers and new drivers but the application would perform for any demographic.

A study last month out of the University of North Texas Health Science Center attributed more than 16,000 deaths between 2001 and 2007 to texting while driving.

A Pew survey earlier this year found that parents often monitor or regulate their child’s behavior on the phone. That includes surveilling what’s on the phone and using it to monitor a child’s location. Amanda Lenhart is the senior research specialist who conducted the study.

It’s not every parent, but it’s a substantial number of those parents that do engage in that behavior. And I think partly it’s because in many cases parents do struggle with how to manage the phone in the lives of their families. Teens are very wedded to it they do an enormous amount of texting.

Lenhart’s study found nearly one third of teens had texted while behind the wheel. Interestingly, she says, adults had about the same rate.

One Comment

  • Erik Wood says:

    Real change on this issue is going to come from the end user – the delivery man, the car pooling mom, or the teen driver deciding to change their habits. From truckers to moms to teens that I spoke with on the issue of text and drive – there was one common thread. If presented with a Big Brother type lock down alternative, they will immediately seek “to get around it”. This does not constitute change on our highways. Selling software that is supposed to lock down the activity forgets that it is the end user (the driver) who will ultimately decide. Let’s change behavior and we will see those violent crash rates plummet…now.

    I decided to do something about it after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool called OTTER that is a simple, affordable app for smartphones. I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.

    Erik Wood, owner
    OTTER app

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