January 9, 2009 By Corey McKenna
A Jacksonville, Fla.,-based company, called Textecution, has created a piece of software that disables texting while driving. The software, also called Textecution, runs on phones using Google's Android operating system. Once installed, the program operates in the background monitoring the speed at which the phone is traveling. When the speed of the vehicle goes about 10 mph the software activates and disables the phone's texting capabilities. The texting capability is restored once the phone is traveling at a speed slower than 10 mph.
Textecution is being marketed to parents who want to keep their children safe behind the wheel as well as employers who want to reduce vicarious liability as a result of automobile accidents involving their employees. Textecution uses GPS to determine the speed the device is moving, but does not report the phone's location to the administrator.
A 2006 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Board found that distracted drivers accounted for nearly 80 percent of all crashes, while 46 percent of teens surveyed by AAA in 2007 admitted to texting while driving. "We created Textecution in an effort to decrease the number of accidents that are caused by drivers who drive recklessly, distracted because they are reading or typing text messages instead of focusing on the road," the company wrote on its Web site.
The software does contain an override function where an administrator can allow the phone for a brief period of time such as on a bus, on a train or in the passenger seat of a car. If a user wishes to override the software and text while the phone is in motion, he or she clicks "Request Permission" and a text message will be sent to the administrator of the mobile device. If the administrator responds "allow," the user will be able to text for four hours even while in a moving vehicle.
Responding takes only a second or two, the company said, and the administrator can deny permission by responding to the text message with something other than allow or by simply not replying.
For now, Textecution can only be installed on a device running the Android operating system, like the Google G1. However, the company is working on other versions including one for the iPhone, which will be released soon.