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Smartphone apps may help prevent distracted driving car accidents

How often do you see drivers texting or using their cellphones while in traffic throughout Albany and the Capital District? You probably see drivers distracted by their phones more often than you are comfortable with. For drivers who want to take the temptation of distraction out of their hands, they may be able to use two smartphone applications that aim to prevent car accidents caused by distracted driving.

AT&T and Sprint are both offering smartphone applications that essentially disable a driver's cellphone while behind the wheel. The applications disable texting and incoming phone calls allowing the driver to focus on the road. The smartphone applications do not completely disable the cellphone though. Users can still receive incoming calls from five designated numbers. Drivers are also allowed to use one GPS navigation application and one music application while the distracted-driving application is engaged. Drivers can still dial 911 for emergencies.

The distracted-driving application by AT&T must be manually set each time the driver uses his or her vehicle. Once the Sprint application is turned on it automatically disables the user's cellphone every time he or she travels more than 10 miles per hour. When the user is no longer traveling at 10 miles per hour or more, the application returns the phone to its normal setting.

People who have used the applications say the applications are effective because they no longer hear the sound of an incoming text or incoming phone call and therefore are not tempted to see who is contacting them.

Source: wane.com, "App takes temptation out of texting while driving," Sept. 16, 2011

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