Sprint’s new “Drive First” app stops teens from texting while driving

Sprint’s new “Drive First” app is aimed at stopping teenagers from texting while driving, but it should help plenty of adults, too.

The new app automatically locks a mobile phone when the car is moving more than 10 miles per hour. Once engaged, the app sends incoming calls to voice mail, silences alerts and prevents text messages.

This trickery is done using GPS and cell tower triangulation. And if the driver is using the phone, the app will engage, end the call and the phone lock screen will appear. If you text little Johnny, you’ll get a ping back saying little Johnny is driving right now. You can even customize the message (“Hey dude, got both hands on the wheel; hit you back in a few”).

When the lock screen pops up, there are exit and emergency buttons to override the app. It can also be overridden when you are a passenger in a car, bus or train (or if you still insist on driving and texting), but the parent/account holder can choose to receive notification when the service is overridden.

Parents have a choice of programming up to five phone numbers to ring through when the phone is locked as well as allowing functionality of three apps, such as navigation, music or weather.

When the application no longer detects movement it unlocks and full device functionality resumes. Sprint Drive First takes into account stop-and-go traffic, so the driver needs to be sitting idle for a few minutes before it will unlock.

Why do we need this kind of app?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved distracted drivers. Of those killed in these kinds of distracted driving-related incidents, 995 involved the mobile phone being the source of the distraction. That’s 18 percent of all these types of crashes.

Of course, the age group most affected was the under 20 age group.

Sprint’s new app is available on all CDMA Android smartphones (and let’s hope the new Sprint iPhone if rumors are true) for $2 per month pre phone. Sprint says it will bring the app to BlackBerry devices and other operating systems in the coming months.

To register, simply visit www.sprint.com/drivefirst and select which phones you’d like to add the app. Current phones will add via a software update. Any Sprint Android smartphone launching later this year (sometime in late Q3, Sprint says) will have the software preinstalled.


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