Smartphones have led to more distracted driving. Theyâre also helping to mitigate it with a host of new apps aimed at shutting down a driverâs device.
Add Sprint to the list of companies offering such an app. On Monday, Sprint announced that it is offering âSprint Drive Firstâ for Android phones (and coming soon for BlackBerry and other operating systems). The app automatically disables the phone when it is traveling more than 10 miles an hour, which the phone determines using GPS.
The app then sends a message to an incoming caller or texter indicating that the person theyâre trying to contact is behind the wheel.
Sprint is advertising the app as something parents might want to buy for teenage drivers, but it says it hopes the audience will be broader than that. The app, which costs $2 per month per phone, can be overridden with two button pushes.
âYou canât stop a teen from turning it off, but there are obvious reasons why youâd want to be able to override it — like if youâre a passenger in a car, or bus or train,â said Walter Fowler, a spokesman for Sprint. âSo we feel the override does need to be there.â
He added: âBut kids should know that parents or account holders can receive notification if the service is overridden.â
Safety advocates have said that Sprint and other wireless carriers have over many decades helped create a culture of multitasking behind the wheel — not just by selling technology/07distracted.html?pagewanted=all">car phones but also by promoting an always-on culture. In the last few years, the carriers have begun various initiatives aimed at, in particular, discouraging texting and such multitasking by teenagers and inexperienced drivers.