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Phone Cut Off Service Available for Texting Drivers

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author photo by Autotrader January 2011

Cell phone companies are all about getting you the best service for less, right? Well, now the trend could be about getting your service cut off – for an additional monthly fee.

T-Mobile recently launched a service that will prevent texting while driving. For $4.99 a month, DriveSmart Plus detects when a user is driving, puts the phone into ‘Driving Mode' and sends calls to voicemail. In addition, an automated text message is sent to the person who phoned or texted alerting them that the recipient is driving and unavailable to receive calls or messages.

Of course in an emergency, the user can override 'Driving Mode.' Additionally, parents can choose to be notified by text message or e-mail when the override occurs and view phone usage during the override from the DriveSmart Web interface.

While it is a first for a cellular carrier to launch the app, Sprint Nextel and AT&T are working on it and Verizon Wireless also has something in the pipeline.

John Ulczycki, a vice president at the National Safety Council, recently noted in a New York Times article, "There already is a simple technology that prevents people from using their phone while driving – the off switch. But people aren't using it,"

Mr. Ulczycki said the biggest challenge is compulsive texting among teenage drivers. "They need a technology that protects them from themselves," he said. The carrier involvement is "a very important step."

Studies show that it may be difficult to ignore the chime of an incoming text or call – for psychological and physiological reasons. Researchers say, that physiologically, mobile devices have addictive properties. They note that people may get an adrenaline flash when a text or call comes in and a rush when they respond to it.

"There are people who know they get distracted while driving and feel responsible enough to themselves that they want help," said Torrie Dorrell, vice president for apps, content and games at T-Mobile. She said that DriveSmart Plus "negates those endorphins" that an incoming message can trigger.

Ms. Dorrell remarked that T-Mobile was hearing from parents who "desperately want to keep their kid off the phone when he or she is driving."

The service is currently available on just one Samsung cellphone, the Android, but the company says more are coming. T-Mobile is also exploring technology to help determine whether a phone belonged to a driver or the passenger.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Phone Cut Off Service Available for Texting Drivers - Autotrader