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A recent study revealed that 58% of high school seniors and 43% of high school juniors in America admitted to texting while driving, despite knowing the dangers. The survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), questioned over 15,000 students in US public and private high schools.
Within the past month, two US teenagers were sentenced to jail for fatal accidents caused by texting while driving, further highlighting this serious problem. US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called the problem of texting while driving a ““national epidemic.”
T-Mobile offers a solution that may give peace of mind to parents of driving teens. DriveSmart is a T-Mobile app that locks your phone screen when the phone is traveling greater than 10 mph. While the screen is locked with DriveSmart, access is blocked to the phone, text messages and certain other apps. When people call or text you while the app is activated, auto-response voicemails and text messages are sent, letting them know that you will get back to them later.
You can still use navigation, music and map apps while DriveSmart is activated. You can also make an emergency call from within the app.
DriveSmart has an Override button that disables the feature and unlocks the phone. Teens who are tempted to tap the Override button should know that parents can opt to receive a text message every time the Override button is used. Parents can also access a website that controls access to the app’s features and shows use of DriveSmart on the account for the past seven days.
DriveSmart Plus, available for $4.99 per month for up to ten phones on an account, activates the app automatically when the phone is in motion. DriveSmart Basic is free but requires that you activate the app manually and does not have parental control features.
T-Mobile provided me with a Samsung Exhibit 4G phone equipped DriveSmart Plus for testing. Having a 16 year-old daughter who will be taking her driving test soon, I was eager to test this app.
To use the app, I went to Settings => DriveSmart and enabled the feature. The application lets you choose whether you want to allow calls using Bluetooth. You can also set the auto-response messages for voicemail and text. The default text message is:
“My calls and messages are being managed by DriveSmart while I focus on driving. I will get back to you when I’m no longer on the road. “
Sure enough, when the car was in motion, the app worked like a charm, showing a lock message on the home screen, complete with an override button. I couldn’t make or receive calls, check email or send or receive text messages while the screen was locked.
The Override button worked well too. A touch of the button opened the phone up to be used as normal.
DriveSmart is available from Google Play on these T-Mobile Android phones:
- Samsung Exhibit 4g
- LG Optimus T
- Samsung Galaxy S 4G
- Motorola CLIQ 2
- Motorola DEFY
- T-Mobile Sidekick 4G
- Samsung Gravity Smart
- LG Doubleplay
The DriveSmart Plus service is free for 30 days, then a monthly fee of $4.99 is charged which includes access to the premium features (such as automatic activation and parental controls) for up to ten phones on an account. DriveSmart Basic is free.
Are you concerned about texting and driving? Do you think DriveSmart would be helpful to make teens safer drivers? Let us know in the Comments section below!