You've seen the accidents that can occur when a motorist is distracted by texting. It's even proved fatal: back in August, 45-year-old motorcycle driver Bill Lofton was struck and killed on Raymond Road by a 16-year-old driving an SUV. Witnesses told police the girl had been texting at the time.
But the only Mississippi law against distracted driving prohibits people with their learner's permit or intermediate license from texting behind the wheel.
Now, you can take matters into your own hands.
"I look at these kids texting and driving all the time," says Ed Welsh, owner of Southern Wireless. Just this week, he began carrying Phone Guard, a cell phone app that allows parents or employers to disable texting on phones when a sensor detects a vehicle is driving 10 miles per hour or faster.
3 On Your Side tested it out. We drove off with a cell phone loaded with the software. As our speed increased, the phone's home screen changed to a red screen with a white line through it, and the words "No Texting". Texting was disabled. As we slowed to a stop, the red screen disappeared, and texting was allowed again.
When texting is disabled, the phone cannot receive texts either. "If I text a phone that has this software on it, I get a reply from that phone that says I'm driving right now, I'll call you when I reach my destination," Welsh says.
But, if the phone operator is in the passenger seat, he or she can hit a button to send a message to the phone's owner asking permission to allow texting.
The software will also send a message if the owner is driving over a speed limit pre-set by the phone's owner. "I got a text that said I'm driving 78 miles per hour, so I know that phone was traveling 78 miles per hour," Welsh explains. The phone owner will also be able to view a Google map that pinpoints via GPS the location of the other phone.
Phone Guard is currently only available for Blackberry and Android phones. It costs $29.99, and no monthly fee is incurred.
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