For the first time in Texas history, texting while driving is illegal. Finally! We were almost the last state to outlaw this incredibly dangerous practice. The new law just started on September 1st and many people still don’t know about it.
And the common habit of tweeting or surfing the net at 60 MPH will be hard to break. After all, we are all addicted to our cell phones.
Is there a way to prevent getting a ticket or far worse, causing an auto accident? Yes, fortunately. The Fort Worth Star Telegram just reviewed several new apps that you might find helpful. I discussed some of them here.
1. Do Not Disturb While Driving. On Tuesday Apple unveiled the new iOS 11 software and iPhone 8 which include an exciting Do Not Disturb feature that you can enable when you get into your car — or make your teenager do. The feature blocks text messages and phone calls and sends an automatic reply that the user is driving. The driver can still receive phone calls through a hands-free device. The app eliminates the temptation to take a peek when a ping announces a text message.
2. Cellcontrol. To be sure the phone is turned off, you may consider subscribing to Cellcontrol. The device is installed under the dashboard and tethered to your phones through an app. What I like about this technology is that other distractions, like the camera, are also disabled. I have seen some harrowing videos and selfies that drivers have posted on social media.
3. Surete. This app also synchs with a device you install in the car. Surete automatically locks texting, email and social media features when the driver starts the car. However, you will have access to important safety and navigation features. For example, the GPS remains in service and your teen can make emergency calls.
4. DriveSafeMode. This app takes parental control one step further. Your teen won’t be able to send or receive text messages and emails while DriveSafeMode is enabled. And best of all, the phone will notify you if your teen turns the app off while the car is in motion.
5. Lifesaver. This aptly named app senses when the vehicle moves and automatically blocks the phone and displays a “Keep Your Eyes on the Road” banner — a reminder of what you might be saying if you were in the passenger’s seat.
I am encouraged by the new technology and laws being developed to stop cell phone use and improve traffic safety. As AT&T has said in its excellent public awareness campaign, “it can wait.”
If you don’t think texting while driving is a serious problem, statistics show that distracted drivers caused over 109,000 car wrecks in Texas last year. This sadly lead to the deaths of 455 people.
Locally, distracted drivers were responsible for more than 15,000 crashes in Tarrant County and Dallas County in 2016. That’s a huge number of “auto accidents” that could have easily been avoided.
These distracted driving car wrecks must be curtailed. It is up to the public to make this happen. I have blogged about this crisis often.
The new Texas law and software will hopefully cause a huge decline in auto accident fatalities.
Please contact me if you have been involved in a car or truck collision in North Texas here.