by Sharlyn Petit
I’m not sure when it happened, but the calendar flipped a page and suddenly I find myself grumbling, Oh, kids these days.
Then I notice professional sports stars and doctors with bios that reveal they’re barely out of their teenage years.
Then the worst, I date myself while talking to a youngster about the days before a mobile phone could send a text. I sense a gray hair coming in.
In all fairness (and refusing to be called ma’am), the era of non-texting phones wasn’t that long ago. These days, mobile phones and texting are a weighty distraction to teen drivers. But of course, there’s an app for that.
A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that distraction is likely a factor in nearly 60% of crashes involving teen drivers, and 12% of those are attributed to cell phone use.
Three major wireless carriers offer free apps that keep teens (and adults) from texting and driving.
- AT&T’s DriveMode app (for iOS or Andriod) turns on when the vehicle is moving, silences text message alerts, and automatically replies to text messages. Parental alerts notify a parent when DriveMode is turned off.
- Sprint’s Drive First app (for Android) detects when you’re driving, silences your phone, and auto-replies to texts and calls to let others know you’re on the road and driving safely. There’s also a way to override the lock if you’re a passenger.
- Verizon recommends Live2Txt app (for Andriod), which allows you to turn the app “on” when you get behind the wheel to silence incoming notifications, texts, and calls. Parents can think of this app as a text blocker for important meetings or appointments, since there are options to choose when and what to block.
There are a range of other driving apps available from the App Store or Google Play, focused on driving logs, driver safety tips, trip monitoring for parents, and more. Make sure to read Q&A sections and comments to get a better idea of app functionality, and try not to get carried away with tracking your teen’s every move.