Paula Korus called the Pleasanton Express to tell of the overwhelming response she and Jay Korus received regarding the story on their daughter Jayci’s texting while driving (TWD) article in last week’s paper. Ms. Korus said the first question was most always, “How is Jayci?” The second was, “What can I do? I know my teen is texting while driving.” Ms. Korus said that she did not have answers but the first thing she would suggest is to regularly and without fail check your child’s cell phone bills to see their texting habits. Let them know that you will be checking the bill monthly so they expect it.
Car crashes are the number one killer of teens according to the National Highway Safety Transportation Association. According to the Pew Center, 75% of all teens in the U.S. own cell phones. Further, a University of Utah research study found that cell phone use while driving increases reaction time by the same amount as having a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 percent, So, it is no wonder that texting while driving among teens has become one of a parent’s worst nightmares. To teens, who have grown up with texting as their primary source of communication TWD isn’t a nightmare it is simply reality.
Conversations between parents and teens about driving safety have never been so important. This is not a once in a blue moon conversation. It. is a life or death talk that needs to be on-going accord- ing to every major U.S. health and safety institute. Drive the message home that your teen’s car is the number one place where they are most likely to be killed. Teens need a constant reminder about “just around the corner” dangers behind texting while driving.
Following are some tools for parents to review. No one tool will solve a teen’s poor texting behavior. Experts say that parents should be as vigilant in warning their teens about the dangers of TWD as they would warning them about the dire consequences of drinking and driving. Educate teens via impactful websites aimed to quickly change TWD attitudes. Some good sites are: www.distraction.gov and www.focusdriven.org.
Some apps and software for parents to consider are ZoomSafer makes software that can put cellphones into a no-texting mode when, through a variety of means (including Bluetooth pairing and GPS-detected speed above 10 miles per hour), the sofware determines that owners have gotten behind the wheel of a car.
Key2SafeDriving says it eliminates the temptation of texting while allowing handsfree calls and greater peace of mind. Key2SafeDriving activates automatically, through Bluetooth technology, placing your cell phone in “Safe Driving Mode.” Key2SafeDriving. safedrivingsystems.com/
Textecution ($29.99 onetime charge)
This Android app cuts off texting ability if the device is moving faster than 10 MPH. If a passenger is using the device, he or she may request an override. That request must be allowed by a Textecution “administrator,” such as a parent or employer (notified by text that the request is pending). If the user tries to remove Textecution, the administrator also gets a tXtBlocker ($6.99 monthly for a single user)
Compatible with a wide range of smartphones, this app allows users to customize the locations and times of day—such as routine commuting or driving times— when texts and phone calls aren’t accepted.
AT&T DriveMode (Free)
Available for Android, BlackBerry and iPhone, this app automatically sends a customized reply to incoming texts, just like an “out-of-office” autoreply. It also disables all ingoing and outgoing calls and Web browsing. Users manually enable the app before driving, though, so participation is strictly voluntary.
DriveSafe.ly ($3.99/month or $13.95/year for a single user)
Instead of shutting down communications entirely, this app reads text messages and emails out loud in real time, including shortcuts like LOL, and sends an autoresponse. You can even pick whether to have texts read to you with a male or female voice, or based upon the gender of the text