New App Could Help Fight Against Texting And Driving

By KBJR News 1

September 3, 2011 Updated Sep 3, 2011 at 12:22 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - The start of school means a lot of young people will be hitting the road.
For some young drivers that can mean trouble like distracted driving.

Between 2001 and 2007, an estimated 16-thousand people in the U.S. died in accidents caused by drivers sending text messages...
A feeling Merry Dye knows all too well.

"It's so painful to lose a loved one like that," says Merry Dye, who lost her daughter to distracted driving in 2009.

"She was reading a text message and ended up losing control of her car and crossing a center median and rolling into oncoming traffic," Dye said.

The typical teen now sends or receives an average of 2,899 text messages a month...and unfortunately many of them while driving.

To combat those statistics Minnesota implemented strict penalties in a new texting law...but that hasn't stopped many people from reaching for their phones.

"I have pulled over several people for texting while driving since the new law took effect," said Deputy Chief of the Hermantown Police Dept., Shawn Padden.

Now there's an AP designed to save lives.

AT&T's app for smart phones is called DriveMode.

"If you receive a text message for example, the auto reply will send a message back to the caller to say that you're in the car driving and you'll get back to them as soon as you can," says AT&T Retail Sales Manager, Jerry Cherra.

So before you even start up your engine...activate your application...and you don't have to worry about being distracted by incoming text messages...keeping your focus on the road.

The app is part of an ongoing campaign that many wireless providers are doing to stop texting while driving accidents.

Authorities say if you don't have the application and need to send or receive a text, pull over to a safe place.

Written for the web by Danyel Piecek.