AT&T Releases iOS Version of Its Text-Preventing DriveMode App
Macek said that any tool that is available to parents to help curb or stop the compulsion of their younger drivers to constantly check incoming texts while driving is a good idea. "That's what it really boils down to," she said. "It's the behavior. We are compelled to stay in touch all the time." The AT&T DriveMode apps for iOS or Android can be used to self-regulate drivers who might be tempted to text or check their texts while they are driving, she said. "We definitely would recommend that parents utilize it for their novice drivers. Young drivers have the double disadvantage of being inexperienced and also being glued to their phones. You're not just endangering yourself, but you are endangering everyone else on the road." Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, told eWEEK in an email reply that while it is good to try to stop people from texting using such apps, "thus far it's not clear that a lot of people are interested in using them." Where such apps can be effective, Rader wrote, is with corporate fleet drivers to enforce cell phone use policies or by parents who want to restrict texting by their teen drivers. "At the same time, though, research shows that distracted driving is much bigger than just phone use and texting," wrote Rader. "Drivers distract themselves by doing a lot of other things when they're not using a phone; they groom themselves, eat, fiddle with the radio, talk to passengers, scold the kids or just daydream."That means things like crash avoidance systems that are being seen on some new vehicles that can scan the road ahead, alert drivers of impending hazards or a collision, and even automatically apply the brakes if the driver doesn't react fast enough, wrote Rader. "This kind of technology may be beneficial in helping to reduce crashes resulting from distractions of all kinds." Interestingly, a study on texting and driving by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that was released in December 2013 found that although teens are usually cited as being the biggest offenders, adult drivers ages 25-39 were the most likely to admit engaging in these risky behaviors behind the wheel. The data came from a sample of 2,325 licensed drivers, ages 16 and older. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one out of every 10 fatal crashes involves distraction, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths per year, although experts agree the numbers are likely underestimated.
What that means is that the fight to reduce distracted driving will take more than apps, he said. "It's going to take broader strategy aimed at all the things drivers do that are distracting. Technology may help, but it will be technology that has a broader reach than just targeting phone use."