Safe Text Sender app inventor Marla Ghiringhelli

Safe Text Sender app inventor Marla Ghiringhelli, photo courtesy of

A woman who describes herself as a suburban, non-tech-savvy mother has produced an app called Safe Text Sender to stop teens from talking or texting on cell phones while driving, as Jamie Hansen reports for The Petaluma, California, woman, Marla Ghiringhelli, was inspired to create the app after Kaitlyn Dunaway, an 18-year-old Petaluma High School graduate, was texting while driving and struck and killed a 2-year-old girl who was crossing the street with her mother in 2010, Hansen writes.

Ghiringhelli, the mother of two teenage boys, said she was prompted to move forward with the app out of concern for the safety of her sons, as her 18-year-old was already driving, and her 15-year-old was getting ready to drive, Hansen writes.

Hansen interviewed Ghiringhelli, who said:

‘People feel that if they don’t respond to (their ringing phone) in that instant, they’re either going to miss out on something or their friends will think they’re not available,’ Ghiringhelli said, explaining that the app aims to eliminate the urge to respond to that ringing phone. When she ran the concept by friends, she got positive feedback but had no idea how to develop it. ‘So I went online and typed in ‘app developers,’ she said. Finally, she found a firm based out of Salt Lake City that she felt she’d like to work with and commissioned them to carry out her idea.

Hansen writes that the app development firm began working on it in August, and by November it was ready to be sold. Ghiringhelli said she has sold about 150 apps so far. In an article “Phone Apps to Save Your Sanity, Life,” Jeanette Pavini writes for The Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch that Safe Text Sender is available for 99 cents on the Android Market and can be purchased through the Google Play app store.

To use the app, a driver activates the program when he or she is getting ready to drive somewhere, Hansen writes. After that, the program automatically responds to incoming texts and phone calls, “eliminating distractions and temptations for the driver,” Ghiringhelli told Hansen. Safe Text Sender silences the phone and then responds to calls and texts with an automatic reply: “I am using Safe Text Sender. I am currently driving.”

Any calls the driver has missed will be waiting for him or her after the drive has been completed. And Ghiringhelli noted that the automatic reply can be customized depending on the situation, such as for going to the movies and working out, Hansen writes.

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