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Car & Driver and Chrysler Just Say No to Texting

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author photo by Autotrader October 2010

It’s about time that someone besides Oprah came down on texting while driving.

True, in-car technology is going gangbusters. Ford Motor Company is expanding its SYNC system with a “Do Not Disturb” button that would allow the driver to lock out incoming calls and text messages. And OnStar is looking into a Facebook link that that would enable them to send audio updates to their page and receive friends’ posts via a computerized voice. But it’s time for someone to put the brakes on smart phones.

Enter Car & Driver and Chrysler who teamed up to take texting to task with a free app (Txt U L8r) for users of Android and BlackBerry devices. The app was created to respond to text messages automatically without letting the driver take their eyes off the road or their hands off the wheel.

When the app is operating on the driver’s handheld device, it sends an alert to the sender that the user is unavailable. At the same time, the received text is read aloud to the driver, so “they won’t miss an urgent message.” A paid upgrade allows the driver to RSVP with voice commands.

The development of Txt U L8r was encouraged by a Car and Driver Texting While Driving study. Analysis confirmed that a texting driver’s reaction times were significantly worse than those of a drunk driver.

The study also showed:

–When unimpaired, it took drivers an average of 0.54 seconds to brake.

–When legally drunk, it took an additional four feet to brake.

–When reading an e-mail message, it required an additional 36 feet to bring the car to a stop.

–When sending a text, another 70 feet was required to brake.

Chrysler, sponsor of the Txt U L8r application, says it was the first manufacturer to institute a corporate policy that banned employees from texting while driving company-owned vehicles as well as texting with company-provided devices while operating their own cars.

To further the cause, Chrysler is asking owners and the community to take the “I Drive Text-Free” pledge on its Facebook page.

“Our experiment showed just how dangerous texting while driving can be,” noted Eddie Alterman, Editor in Chief of Car and Driver.

“The results of our research were precisely the reason we developed Txt U L8r in an effort to help drivers avoid car accidents often associated with distracted driving,” Alterman confirmed. “Our goal is to make Txt U L8r part of a daily driving routine while helping save lives behind the wheel.”

Now they just have to offer Txt UL8r for the iPhone.

Android and BlackBerry users can download Txt U L8r here.
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Car & Driver and Chrysler Just Say No to Texting - Autotrader