As states across America continue to outlaw texting while driving, a new AT&T Blackberry and Android application has taken cell phone-vehicular safety up a notch.
AT&T's Drive Mode app automatically deflects texts, calls and emails while the user is driving. In turn, the senders receive a notification that the person they are trying to reach is behind the wheel and can't respond. After reaching their destination, the user can turn off the app and view calls, messages and emails as normal.
The new software is the brainchild of AT&T global customer advocate Shavonne Jones. After coming up with the idea, she pitched it to AT&T's employee crowd sourcing program. Shortly thereafter, the company decided to fund Jones' idea.
She explained that she hopes the new app will save lives.
"It really hits home when something like this happens to a close friend or family member," Jones said in a statement. "I hope this app can help others avoid a senseless tragedy."
The new app is part of AT&T's campaign to steer text users away from the practice while they are driving. As a part of the movement, the company has put up a series of texting and driving resources, documentaries and news features and has launched a pledge for users to sign.
"My nephew just turned 16 years-old and my son is 17. I made them sign the pledge because that's how strongly I feel about it," Jones said in a statement. “I also added that if they want to text and drive they lose their vehicles."
AT&T's campaign comes in the wake of some alarming statistics. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 5,474 people were killed and 448,000 were injured on U.S. roadways as a result of distracted driving in 2009. Additionally, the department found that drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.