A new app now connects smart phone's GPSs with its location's federal, state, county and city current cell phone usage laws to prevent accidents from distracted driving. SAFECELLapp, released on Apple September 27, 2010 and slated for Android release in early October, issues real-time alerts to drivers entering areas with restrictions on text or cell phone usage and the nearest school zones within a 5-mile radius.The app utilizes Continuous Visual AdvisoryTM capability and Web based trip tracking (Trip Tracker)™ .
According to the company this app automatically disables phone, email, and messaging functions on "98 percent of smart phones when the driver exceeds 5 m.p.h." in areas that have restricted phone use. While the application is on it notifies drivers of applicable laws by illuminating various icons on the phone's screen, informing them that the use of their phones in this location are prohibited. A BlackBerry version is also in development. Chief Information Officer Scott Taylor states this application was developed over the past nine months by first identifying existing cellular towers, then creating a national depository of cell phone usage laws and finally, coordinating both data bases in the cloud. The Android version will run continuously in the background and invokes a voice prompt. But because Apple does not give developers access to their OS, the Apple version needs to be turned on in order to launch. Drivers can identify themselves as class C, the category of most drivers, or commercial drivers such as truck drivers and bus drivers, as well as government drivers, as there are often different rules that apply to each category of drivers. For example, government drivers in the Houston area are prohibited from texting while driving, as are bus drivers. Parents can download this app for their teenage children and keep track of their driving behavior, because each trip can be recorded. Business drivers traveling in rental cars across state lines will have access to local and state laws that they might not otherwise have. The idea is not to have Big Brother watching but for drivers to voluntarily modify their behavior and drive more safely. The data base includes over 100 local and state laws and over 112,000 school zone areas.
To compensate drivers for missed communications, the company offers a cash-equivalent rewards program for drivers who follow the law. Using the web-based tracking and logging mechanisms, the app records trip details including the driver's phone, email, and text message usage, all which can be viewed by users, parents or companies. Points earned for good driving can be redeemed for gift cards or merchandise at major retailers or toward charitable donations. Points are deducted for who don't follow the rules. Drivers can earn one point for every mile driven following the laws. The app also has a 911 override and voice prompts for cell laws. Additionally, it has a passenger disable function. This means passengers can still use the phone regardless of cell phone laws, but they won't generate any reward points.