New App Prevents Texting While Driving

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North Carolina is the latest in a growing number of states to make it illegal to text and drive. Laws now ban the practice in more than 14 states -- and the District of Columbia.

But changing the law doesn't always change behavior, especially among the 60 percent of young drivers who admit to texting while driving.

That's where technology comes in.

Chris Maher, the father of a new driver, helped to develop "TextSafety," software that arms parents with power to limit exactly when teens can text and when they can't. Once the software is downloaded to the phone, it detects when it is inside a vehicle traveling at least ten miles an hour and will disable texting.

"When I knew my little girl would be driving, I thought I have got to do something to disengage texting while driving," said Maher.

"As a dad, I knew about 33 percent of the kids have accidents within the first six months of driving," said Chris Maher. "And texting and driving is a huge problem."

Safety experts say the dangers of texting behind the wheel rival drinking and driving.

"Texting combines the cognitive distraction of having a conversation with someone with the physical distraction of holding something and the visual distraction of looking at it," said Anne McCartt of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "Even without studies, I think most of us would know that texting while driving is a dangerous thing to do. It puts yourself and other drivers at risk."

TextSafety puts control in parents' hands in more ways than one. Parents can set it to sound an alarm on the teen's phone and then send them an e-mail alert when the vehicle is going more than 65 miles an hour. It's a feature that recently proved to be helpful for Maher.

"My teenager was going to a soccer game," said Maher. "And the bus driver was running late. He was speeding over 65, going over 73 miles an hour and I got an alert that my little girl was traveling in excess of 65."

GPS showed Maher exactly where his daughter was at the time. The technology is added security for parents when their children are on the road, and it's just a computer click away.

*Originally published December 9, 2009.

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TextSafety

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