Virtually everyone knows that texting while driving is dangerous. Most of us resolve never to do it. But when you’re driving and hear that familiar ping announcing a new text or email—well, many of us simply can’t resist taking a peek.
Those split-second glances away from the road are often enough to cause devastating crashes, the kind that spur us to make resolutions not to text and drive. In recent years, texting-while-driving crashes have become increasingly frequent occurrences.
The National Safety Council reports that this year more than 100,000 accidents involved drivers who were texting. This activity caused wrecks, life-changing injuries, and even deaths. For teens, who tend to be prolific texters, texting while driving is an especially dangerous distraction.
The situation called for a technological solution. The AT&T DriveMode™ app grew from an employee idea submitted to AT&T’s The Innovation Pipeline (TIP), a crowd-sourcing platform that allows employees to submit ideas, get feedback, and secure funding and development. AT&T DriveMode was voted as a top idea and subsequently developed through collaboration with United Efficiency, building from what we learned in developing the tool tXtblocker®.
The technology behind this app uses the handset’s GPS and cell tower ID recognition to determine the phone’s location, acceleration, and velocity. United Efficiency developed an algorithm that determines how fast a cell phone is traveling without overburdening the phone’s GPS. As a result, when a phone has DriveMode enabled and is moving at a speed of at least 25 mph, alert notifications are silenced, and text messages and emails cannot be read or composed.
The DriveMode app, free to AT&T customers, temporarily disables some of the phone’s features, allowing drivers to focus on driving. When turned on, the app not only reduces notification sounds but also sends a customizable auto reply message, letting the wireless caller or texter know you are driving and to expect a reply later. With the new “auto on” feature, drivers no longer have to remember to turn DriveMode on. The app can be set to automatically turn on when the vehicle reaches a speed of 25 mph and will automatically turn off when the vehicle slows to less than 25 mph for five minutes. The app can be manually turned off at any time.
DriveMode is different because it gives end users greater control through customization features. Drivers can use this app to make the choice to be safe and even to let others know about that choice, instead of having their phones go into a “lockdown” mode that allows no modifications. Customization features allow users to access one music app and one navigation app of their choice. Users can also make and receive calls to and from up to five people on a designated “allow list,” and the ability to call 911 is always enabled. Allowing users to customize DriveMode can encourage them to continue to use the app to drive safely.
Understanding the dangers of texting while driving isn’t enough to stop the practice. Awareness is growing, however, and more people are taking the pledge to end risky behavior through AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign. Easy-to-use, customizable apps can solve this problem by helping people eliminate driving distractions while remaining in control of their mobile devices. AT&T’s DriveMode is an essential tool for improving road safety.
AT&T DriveMode: Data and text messaging charges may apply for download and app usage. Standard messaging rates apply to auto-reply messages. AT&T DriveMode is free to AT&T customers only. Compatible device required.
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