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Putting the Brakes On Texting and Driving: Smartphone Apps To Stop It

Texting while driving has become the favorite pastime of many drivers and it’s rapidly becoming a fatal one. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, texting while driving kills 11 teens every day. It’s not just limited to teens, either; 10 percent of parents say they have multi-message text conversations while driving.

Faced with numbers like these, parents are attempting to ensure their teenage children don’t text and drive by installing applications on their smartphones. Though they vary in operation, each one has the ability to keep people from answering a text while driving. Keep in mind that unlike Android or Blackberry devices, Apple will not allow the installation of any app that overrides the core functions of the iPhone like receiving texts or phone calls despite where the phone is being used.

1. TextBuster

One of the most expensive ways to keep teens from texting while driving, it’s also the most comprehensive. It requires the installation of a hardware device in the car, although the app is free; it notifies the hardware every time they get in the car and temporarily disables text messaging, email, and Internet access while the car is moving. The phone can still make and receive calls, and the GPS mapping functions still work, so the question becomes whether the driver will make phone calls instead of texting. The hardware ranges between $180-200, so it’s a big question. Available for Android devices only.

2. Textecution

Costing $29.99, this app uses GPS to detect if the phone is traveling faster than 10 mph, Textecution then disables the phone’s texting feature so texts can’t be sent or received. Once the phone is shown to be at a stop or traveling slower than 10 mph, the texting feature is restarted and texts can be sent again. Unfortunately, Textecution may no longer be supported on all devices or on Android OS versions 4.0 and higher—so check what OS the phone has before installing it.

3. tXtBlocker

This app blocks texting and speaking while the car is moving and sends an automatic “Driving” message to anyone who texts or calls. It can also be customized to block text messages or calls at certain times of the day or near certain locations like a school or workplace. 911 is not blocked, however. There is a monthly subscription fee of $6.99 per phone or $9.99 per month for the family plan, and it works with any wireless carrier—but not on anything from Apple above an iPhone 4.

4. AT&T Drive Safe Mode

This app only makes the list because it’s the best iPhone option in a field of weak apps. As mentioned, the iPhone won’t allow interference with calls or texts—so any app will be limited. For $2.99 per month, users have to disengage the app to use the phone. Drive Safe Mode then sends an email to a predetermined person as well as lots of annoying popups to the phone until the app is reengaged. It doesn't stop people from using their phones; all it does is notify another person that the phone is being used while driving. This way, parents can monitor whether their children are texting or using the phone while driving, and then prevent them from doing it in the future.

Texting and driving has become a serious problem. With any luck, these apps will provide enough choices for customers to ensure the combination of the two won't result in harm to their loved ones and result in a fatal auto accident.