Dallas Law Firm Blog

Technology Advances, New State Law Help Curb Distracted Driving in Texas

Over the past few years, several tech applications have been created to help eliminate distractions from our smartphones when we drive. And, according to a recent survey, drivers appear to like the idea.

One initiative for Apple’s line of iPhones is designed to eliminate the distracting — and dangerous — urge to look at these devices when we’re zipping down the street. The “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature is built into Apple’s newest mobile operating system (iOS 11). If your phone is connected to a vehicle via hard cable or Bluetooth and the vehicle is moving, the phone will withhold any notifications of text messages or news updates. If someone does text you while you’re driving, the phone can be programmed to respond with an automatic message telling the sender that you’re driving and are unable to immediately respond.

Apple’s is just the latest in a growing class of app advances that block or severely restrict smartphone communications when we’re behind the wheel. Here’s a list of others on the market that appear to be working – to varying degrees.  Note: all apps are Android and iOS compatible unless otherwise noted.

AT&T DriveMode

This free app activates when the vehicle reaches 15 mph. It blocks text alerts and can send automatic text replies. Parents can program the app to notify them when it has been turned off.

CellControl DriveID

This device attaches to the windshield and works with a companion app to block the sending and receiving of texts. It can also block email and smartphone cameras. It requires activation ($39.93) and monthly fees ($7.95).

Drivesafe.ly

Designed to read incoming text messages and email aloud to drivers so they keep their eyes on the road. Some automaker infotainment systems also offer the same built-in technology, though the driver distraction represented by many infotainment systems is a separate, and concerning, issue.

Drive Safe Mode

Allows parents to track their teens’ in-car phone usage. According to the company, parents are immediately notified if their teen is texting; is on Facebook, Snapchat, or Twitter; or is using any other mobile app while the car is in motion.

Live2Txt

Android app can block incoming text messages and calls while it’s turned on. Users can set up an automated reply to incoming text messages or phone calls. A parent receives a text message whenever the app is turned on or off. It costs $1.99 to download.

Drivemode

Android app can read text messages aloud. It also integrates some apps and functions, such as those for programming music and navigation, and creates an interface with your smartphone that the company says is less distracting.

Samsung

Android app called In-Traffic Reply allows users to set automatic replies to incoming calls or text messages. The app engages itself by using its GPS to detect a car’s motion.

Sprint Drive First

Android app, for Sprint customers only, routes incoming calls to voicemail and silences email and text alerts when a vehicle reaches 10 mph.

To combat this distracted driving scourge, the new Texas texting while driving ban went into effect on September 1, 2017.  First-time offenders must pay between $25 and $99, and repeat offenders as much as $200. Anyone convicted of causing serious injury or death when texting while driving faces a fine of up to $4,000 and up to a year in jail.

There is already a ban on all handheld device usage in school zones and strict prohibition of smartphones by drivers under 18. Many communities have even stricter bans on these devices.

If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by a distracted driver, the injury attorneys with Guajardo & Marks can help. Contact us today by filling out our online contact form or calling us at 972-774-9800 to schedule a free consultation.