As states adopt new laws addressing distracted driving, a number of technology companies have come up with applications to limit the use of cell phones in vehicles that are in motion.
Many of these tools are marketed to employers who want to stop truck drivers, bus operators and other commercial vehicle drivers from using mobile phones. But these anti-distracted driving apps also can help any driver stay focused on the road.
An estimated 421,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents in 2012, according to federal transportation officials. While driving distractions can take many forms, using a smartphone to send text messages is among the most dangerous.
Some cellphone applications shut down texting functions
Cell phone applications are designed to help drivers avoid electronic distractions like texting. For instance, a Kentucky-based tech company is selling an app known as TextLimit that shuts down a smartphone’s texting and other functions when a car reaches a predetermined speed.
TextLimit is designed for everyday drivers and parents of teen drivers who want to keep their kids from using their phones behind the wheel. The app also allows users to track the phone’s location and speed, which is valuable information for parents of newly-licensed teens.
Like most states, Virginia prohibits all drivers from texting behind the wheel. It also bans all cellphone use, both handheld and hands-free, by school bus drivers and novice drivers.
Police in Richmond and other areas of the state have been stepping up enforcement. Also, public education and advocacy efforts like AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign encourage drivers to commit to driving text-free.
TextLimit is just one tool that might help reduce distracted driving wrecks on Virginia roads. The company that developed the app is hopeful that it will save lives by allowing users to make decisions about traffic safety before they are behind the wheel and tempted to get involved with a phone call, email or text.