My Turn: New app to prevent texting and driving

My Turn: New app to prevent texting and driving

The boom in smart phones and other technology in the last decade has produced a world of entrepreneurs …some in our own backyard.

Count Foster Oliver among those. The Wilmington man says he has found a way to stop texting and driving. He's worked with a company in town to create an app that will disable your smart phone after you reach ten miles an hour or higher in your car. He demonstrated it to one of our reporters this week.

The idea is for parents to download the app and make sure it's working on their teenagers' phones when they get behind the wheel. It has an emergency function in case they need to call 911.

This sounds like a great idea and a great phone app. But judging from what I see as I make my way to and from work each day, there are plenty of adults on our streets and highways that need to be using this app as well.

That's my turn. Now it's your turn. To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at

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Emailed comments from viewers:

Okay, so here's the overwhelming issue with ANY manner of anti-texting app......

I wholeheartedly support any method of preventing drivers from texting, but every app currently available targets one thing and one thing only: the rate of travel. The problem is that it will disable anyone's phone if they are moving at a rate of speed higher than the set limit. If that person is not the driver, and is merely sitting in the back seat, they will be unable to text because the GPS in their phone shows a rate of travel higher than the set limit.

What if the person in question is not the driver, but rather a passenger in a car driven by their classmate? What if, for example, someone is sitting in the backseat of a car while their classmate is driving and texting? What if that same person wants to text someone, such as their parents or another friend, to warn them that the driver is texting and driving? Such an instance is impossible with every app currently on the market.

The only way to eliminate texting and driving is to completely eliminate one or the other entirely. I have personally witnessed both Wilmington Police officers AND New Hanover County Sheriff's Officers texting while they drive, and there has been plenty of documented evidence of them doing so in the past. Therefore for myself, and for anyone who has either witnessed the same or seen the news stories about such incidents, any law against texting seems obviously laughable. If we can't expect law enforcement to follow the rules, it rings hollow to say that regular citizens can't do it.

As it stands, the only way to ensure that a driver will not be texting and driving is to connect the phone with the car itself. To limit texting based on rate of speed means an individual in the back seat could be prevented from notifying others (such as their surviving relatives, should an accident occur) that the driver is texting. If the ignition system itself was tied to an interlock with the ignition, such as with habitual drunk drivers and a "blowjack" system, the driver could be required to disable texting in order to start the car. Any other attempt simply means disabling texting for every passenger, or allowing it for everyone, driver included.

But sadly, there is about as much chance of such a solution being adopted as there is of people agreeing to stop texting and driving. And considering how often I miss a green light while sitting in traffic because the person in front is too busy texting, it's safe to assume that we're just stuck with the inherent danger that such technology has created.