One of the leading causes of car accidents amongst teens has been identified as texting while driving and it’s starting to get a lot of carrier attention these days. In January got into the mix by offering an app-based service called Drivesmart on their LG Optimus T phones. For $4.99 a month, the application recognizes when a car is in motion and automatically reroutes calls to voicemail and sends a text notification that the recipient is driving. As you might expect, the service has an automatic deactivation feature but parents have the opportunity to be notified when the action is performed.
T-Mobile isn’t the only one getting in on the action. AT&T has been involved since 2009. In December 2010, they put out a gritty 10 minute mini-documentary produced by BBDO callled “The Last Text.” The short opens with a highway patrolman talking about a accident induced by texting while driving. It’s not a pretty picture.
“Texting and driving is the new drinking and driving,” AT&T spokeswoman Serena Thomas told me. Indeed, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation estimates that there are about 5,500 fatalities every year due to “distracted driving” and that the largest proportion is among teens. A Virginia Tech study released in 2009 found that a driver is 23 times more likely to have a collision if he or she is texting.