New apps helping parents combat teen texting and driving
LONE TREE, Colo. – Max Rubin just got his driver’s license a few weeks ago. He’s enjoying his new freedom and trying to limit his distractions, like his cell phone and text messages.
“It’s really tempting to see what (the message) about or who it’s from, but you can wait five minutes to pick it up or you can risk hurting somebody or yourself by looking at it,” Max said.
Under Colorado law, drivers under 18 are not allowed to talk on the phone, and texting is illegal for everyone. But it happens, sometimes with deadly consequences.
But now there is a way to fight technology, with technology. A wide variety of new smart phone apps are available which lock your phone while you are driving so you can’t text, call, email, surf the web or update your Facebook page.
Michelle Rubin, Max’s mom, is considering one of the apps for Max and agreed to test one for us.
“I think every parent needs to consider it for a young driver,” Michelle told us.
The family installed a Cell Control transmitter on their car, and installed the cell control app on Max’s phone. When the car is in motion, the phone becomes disabled.
“It won’t let me do anything,” Max said.
Incoming texts don’t appear. Calls go straight to voicemail, and Max’s driving is uninterrupted.
Drivers are able to make emergency calls and they can customize the plan to allow for things like music.
“It’s definitely a good idea,” Max said.
There are several other apps that don’t require a transmitter on your car. Instead, they rely on the GPS in your phone to calculate your speed while you are driving. At a certain speed, the phone shuts down.
People using the txtBlocker app will see a certain screen while driving. Callers receive a message that says “Hi- Thanks for the Call. I’m driving or in an area where mobile use isn’t allowed. Get back to you as soon as possible.”
Unfortunately, some users complain apps which rely on the phone’s GPS run down the battery on the phone. Plus those apps can only tell when you are moving, not when you are driving, so they shut down the phone even when you are a passenger in a car, bus or light rail.
The Rubins are weighing their options.
“I think as a parent you’re obligated to at least consider doing something,” Michelle said.
Some of the available apps include txtBlocker, CellSafety, iZup, Zoomsafer, and Cell Control. Most have monthly fees. You can check to see which ones will work on your phone.