Texting While Driving: There’s an App for That
WebSafety Inc., an Irving, TX-based company, has created a new product designed to prevent distracted driving, which we all know is a major cause of car accidents these days. WebSafety’s CellSafety is a smartphone application that blocks texting, emailing, Web browsing and other smartphone features while in a moving vehicle. The following text is displayed prominently on the CellSafety product page:
Saving Lives by Stopping Texting-While-Driving and Other Cell Phone Risks.
Shamila Janakiraman, a contributing writer for TMC.net, explains that the application works by using the phone’s GPS system. When it detects motion faster than 10 miles per hour, it blocks the phone in question from texting, sending or receiving e-mails, Web browsing, chat, IM, and Skype. Janakiraman also details the app’s compatibility with major operating systems and wireless providers:
It is compatible with 88 models of smartphones powered by the Android, Blackberry and Symbian operating systems and major wireless carriers in the United States including AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon. It also works with three wireless networks in Canada including Bell Mobility, Rogers and Telus.
So it’s a good idea that can be implemented on a wide variety of phones and networks, but how does it stack up in the real world? Here is a brief demonstration of the application in action from the company’s YouTube Channel:
This demonstration shines light on several shortfalls with the product. First, CellSafety does not stop you until after you have written and tried to send a text — in other words, until you’ve already been distracted. Then it displays a message on screen telling you why it has stopped the text from going out. This seems as distracting as reading an incoming text. Additionally, once this occurs, you can simply reply that you are a passenger, not the driver, and the software allows you normal access to texting, browsing, etc.
Despite these issues, the software is gaining momentum, having just extended a relationship with the Northwest Ohio AAA. According to a press release on DMN Newswire, the two groups have been co-marketing the software to AAA members at a reduced rate since October 19, 2010. Here is a statement from the COO of WebSafety:
‘There is no doubt that the CellSafety mobile phone application has saved lives and reduced property damage by preventing drivers from texting-while-driving,’ said Travis Bond, Chief Operating Officer of WebSafety. ‘Our partnership with AAA Northwest Ohio has provided more than just cost-savings to their members; we have and will continue to provide a viable way to make the roads safer for all drivers. We are therefore pleased to announce the extension of our marketing partnership.’
This application is certainly worth following, and we’ll stay on top of it here on the Colorado Accident Law Blog. Despite the shortfalls I mention, if this technology can prevent even one car accident, it is more than worth it.