New Technology to Fight Texting and Talking While Driving

There is a new tool available to combat distracted driving and it is different because it puts much of the control in the hands of parents.

The wireless company T-Mobile unveiled a new service called Drive Smart Plus that disables a cell phone once the GPS registers that the vehicle it is traveling in is in motion.

“It’s like a reaction,” said Lindsey Wagner, a sophomore at Watchung Hills Regional High School in Warren, New Jersey.  “Your phone buzzes and you want to see who is talking to you.”

Wagner and hundreds of other high school students attended a presentation on distracted driving organized by a group called  The main story was told by a victim of distracted driving, Jacy Good. 

“Everything was kind of falling into place and we were planning everything we could,” Good told the crowd of college-bound teens. 

Good was 22 years old, had just graduated from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania and was on her way home with her parents.  But while driving along Route 222, a tractor trailer crashed into their vehicle, killing both her parents and leaving her clinging to life.  The driver had swerved into them to avoid an accident. 

"An 18 year old young man was talking on his cell phone,” Good told the crowd.  “He didn't see the red light and turned left into that intersection.  The tractor trailer swerved to try and miss him and hit just the front of his car and hit our car, with full force.” 

Both her parents were killed instantaneously and she was left in critical condition.  Now she visits schools to tell her powerful story, hoping to prevent teens from talking or texting while behind the wheel. 

"I just don’t' want anyone else to go through what I’ve gone through,” said Good.  “I think if this save lives then it's a good thing."

Good said Drive Smart Plus might be a worthwhile application if it stops people from engaging in dangerous behavior while behind the wheel.

Here’s how the application works.  It uses the GPS in the cell phone to gauge movement and speed.  Once it establishes that the phone is on the move, it will disable the phone, send all phone calls to voicemail and receive text messages but turn off any alert sounds. 

"This gives parents an element of control,” said Larry Petrone of T-Mobile.  “It’s a way to ensure that the children really are turning off the phone when they're driving."

The National Safety Council says nearly 28 percent of all accidents occur while people talk or text behind the wheel.  And some of those accidents as students at this New Jersey high school found out, can end fatally.  At least one senior thought this technology might keep him safe behind the wheel.

“I think if you lose the option and lose the choice,” said Mark Carotenuto.  “I think it’s a good thing.”

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