Over the past week there has been significant press surrounding SecuraFone, a new distracted driving app designed to deny users access to their email or text messaging if the phone is moving at over 15 miles per hour. The application, created by SecuraTrac, is currently being marketed to parents as a means of both reducing instances of distracted driving and monitoring the child’s speed and location history.
Parents are encouraged to install the app on their teen driver’s phone, paying $8.99 per month for a service that allows them to get location updates, emergency notifications, and some peace of mind that their child won’t be texting while behind the wheel.
The latest data suggests that 16 percent of fatal crashes in the U.S. involve distracted driving, and as a parent, eliminating the potential to engage in unsafe behavior is a tempting proposition. However, since the application needs to be enabled and disabled by a parent, there are some logistical questions surrounding the potential for teens using public transportation or riding as a passenger to be temporarily locked out of their phone while in transit.
A representative for SecuraTrac says this potential problem has already been acknowledged, stating, “We are coming out with an update to the application that allows the user to ‘ask permission’ to use messaging applications. This feature works by sending an automated text message to the parent asking for permission. If the parent grants permission then they will respond with how long the feature should be overridden (10 minutes, 1 hour, etc). This update will be coming out in the next couple weeks.”
The creators of the app do concede, “Of course, a tech savvy teen that is determined to get around it will find a way. There is only so much control an application has over the smartphone so we cannot prevent a teen that has full access to their phone from removing the app.” However, they added, “We hope it will deter teens from using their phone while driving and make it much easier for them to just wait until they are out of the car before they send messages or check their social status.”
It seems as if the app is a definite step in the right direction for parents hoping to deter distracted driving, but the real question is whether parents will actually practice what they preach and refrain from checking their own phone while behind the wheel. After all, it’s unlikely even the strictest parent would be willing to turn the tables and install the software on their own device.
Photo credit: SecuraFone Website