‘Drive Safe Mode’ disables connections while vehicle is in motion
Drivers can easily spot a texter. They tend to look down, not at the road, and drive out of their lane. And it is that distracted driving that has caused 14,000 crashes in Pennsylvania in 2010, authorities said. Those crashes included 68 fatalities in the Keystone State. As drivers get accustomed to the new law — which carries a $50 fine for anyone sending texts, emails or similar messages from their phones, computers or other devices while driving — Cricket Wireless has introduced a safety initiative: The “Drive Safe Mode” app. The mobile phone company has partnered with the developers of the “Drive Safe Mode” app for a product that disables distracting functions like texting, email and access to the web on a driver’s phone when a predetermined speed is detected by GPS.
“As a wireless provider, we feel it is our responsibility to educate our customers and the rest of the community on the dangers of texting while driving,” said Andy Cook, general manager for Cricket Communications. “Cricket supports this law 100 percent; therefore, we’re asking all Pennsylvania drivers to sign our ‘Muve More, Text Less’ pledge and encouraging them to download the ‘Drive Safe Mode’ app. It’s a great tool that will help them stick to the pledge.”
In hopes of reducing the number of accidents, the “No Texting” law targets chronic texters, who are advised to keep their hands on the wheel and off the keypad. According to the Department of Transportation, cell phones are involved in 1.6 million accidents a year, causing half a million injuries and 6,000 deaths. Recent studies have found that when a driver is busy constructing a text while driving, the steering capability of the driver is lessened by a staggering 91 percent. Under the new state law, police can’t seize the devices when they write tickets but they can pull over anyone they notice texting — and they don’t have to commit any other offense to be stopped.
“I’ve personally seen the tragic nature of driving and texting, and I can’t imagine the pain of the parents,” said Drive Safe Mode spokesperson Phil Randazzo. “If our patent pending ‘Drive Safe Mode’ app saves just one set of parents from having to experience that pain, it will all be worth it.”
For more information about Cricket’s “Muve More, Text Less” Campaign, visit www.mycricket.com.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
PHILADELPHIA — The sidewalk lanes for the digitally distracted may be a joke but officials in Philadelphia want the public to know the issue is no laughing matter.
Lines on some sidewalks near City Hall now designate part of the pavement as "e-lanes" suitable for chronic texters and digital music aficionados — although only through the end of the week.
The April Fools' Day prank is one way city officials, in particular Mayor Michael Nutter, are trying to draw attention to the danger of inattentive pedestrians.
The lines, signage and sidewalk graphics — depicting a pedestrian peering down at a hand-held device — will stick around part of John F. Kennedy Boulevard through the week.
A bogus video released for the new lanes shows Nutter being cut off mid-interview by an oblivious pedestrian, played by Streets Department Deputy Commissioner Steven Buckley.
"Sidewalk safety is important," Nutter noted just after his mock interview was disrupted. The video also features a rowdy band of anti-texting protesters.
All kidding aside, officials said distracted pedestrians are a serious issue the city plans to address. -- (AP)
HARRISBURG — A ban on texting behind the wheel took effect Thursday in Pennsylvania, giving chronic texters one more reason to keep their hands on the wheel and off the keypad.
The new law carries a $50 fine for anyone sending texts, emails or similar messages from their phones, computers or other devices while driving. Police can't seize the devices when they write tickets but they can pull over anyone they notice texting — they don't have to commit any other offense to be stopped.
Bill sponsor Sen. Tommy Tomlinson said texting is about the most distracting activity that drivers — specifically young ones — engage in.
"I think a lot of the kids, particularly, they don't realize how dangerous texting while driving is, even at 35 or 40 miles per hour," said Tomlinson, R-Bucks.
State and local police said they're ready to begin enforcement.
Lansdowne Police Chief Daniel Kortan Jr., chairman of the executive board of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, said it's not that difficult to spot a texter. They tend to look down, not at the road, and drive out of their lane.
"It's obvious when you see it," Kortan said.
Kortan said he expects police to issue more warnings than tickets as drivers get accustomed to the new law.
Fourteen thousand crashes were linked to distracted driving in Pennsylvania in 2010, authorities said. Those crashes included 68 fatalities.
The bill included a ban on cellphone use by drivers when it was passed by the state Senate in June but that provision was stripped out before final passage in the House. -- (AP)