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Apps target distracted driving problem

Jan. 17, 2012 at 3:05 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Smartphone applications that prevent drivers from using their phones to talk or text while a vehicle is moving are gaining popularity, U.S. analysts say.

Parents worried about their teen children and distracted driving are tapping new technologies to keep them from texting, surfing the Web or and even talking behind the wheel, USA Today reported Tuesday.

Various options to sense when a vehicle is moving include software that uses on-phone GPS, and devices that connect with the vehicle's on-board diagnostics port or its infotainment system to shut off phones while the vehicle is moving.

Parents have been quick to pick up on the availability of such systems.

"Absolutely, it gives me peace of mind," said Jack Lavender, 50, a consultant in Berwyn, Pa., who used a product called Cellcontrol, which parents can buy for $7.95 a month for up to six phones.

It prevents his 21-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son from using their phones while driving.

"They live so much on the phone and they do so much of their communication using texting," Lavender said. "I know how dangerous it is, so for me, it's really reassuring to know that they're not doing it."

Not everyone sees technology as being able to have much impact on distracted driving, however.

"It's not clear that these systems are going to be widely accepted by consumers," Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said. "The effect of these systems on distracted driving as a whole is likely going to be limited."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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