Parents seeking to discourage such behavior might consider Cellcontrol, a Bluetooth-powered device to block calls and texts on both Apple and Android phones. The system costs $129 for one car; $219 for two; and $309 for three; there are no monthly charges. Innovations blogger Matt McFarlane tried it and “came away convinced it could impact how drivers behave.”
Other devices and apps may work only with specific car models, cellphone networks or smartphones, and many charge for their services. Here are two free apps that work on Android and iOS:
Parents can download DriveSafe Mode , then sync their children’s phones to the account. When active on Android phones, it will disable the phone and keyboard when a car is in motion(though it can be programmed to allow for 911 calls). It will also send an email to the parent’s account noting that the driver was trying to call or text while in motion. Because of Apple’s security restrictions, parents cannot use DriveSafe to disable iOS phones and keyboards, but they can receive emails about calls made or texts sent when their kids are driving.
LifeSaver works much the same way but also allows parents to set up a reward system. LifeSaver’s developers have found a workaround for iPhones: While a teenager is driving, a message pops up that reads “KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD.” It can be disabled, but if it is, parents will be alerted via email.
Both apps allow drivers to use voice-only navigation systems. And both allow drivers to respond to hands-free incoming calls. But given that a recent AAA study showed that drivers using hands-free entertainment systems don’t regain their full alertness for 27 seconds, that might not be a good idea, either.
A $3.99 app called Focus (iOS only) is designed more for adults. It doesn’t disable a phone. Instead, a male voice gently reminds drivers to put down their phones, becoming angrier and angrier if they don’t (“You’re endangering yourself and the people around you!”). The goal isn’t to block drivers from using their phones, the developer says, but to train them not to. Which is training a lot of us need.
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