Two brothers from Central Florida have unveiled a smartphone app that can make it impossible to text while driving.
"My brother and I were habitual offenders," said Phil Stiles, the President and General Counsel of TXTShield. "We were texting while driving. It's not socially responsible to do that. It's wrong."
Stiles said he wanted to make an app that would remove the temptation from a driver and "would save lives for less than the cost of a latte."
There are two versions of the app available in the Google Play store. A lite version for $1.99 and a gold version for $3.99. After downloading and installing the app, the user programs the speed for the app to kick in.
"When a vehicle hits a speed, for a certain time, it will activate," Stiles said. "During that time driver cannot read inbound text or send outbound text ... and a response message will be sent to person who sent them the text notifying them that they're driving and unable to respond to text at this time."
Local 6 took a ride with Stiles to put the TXTShield to the test. Shortly after hitting the programmed speed, the activation screen popped up and began blocking texts from appearing on the screen and automatically replying to the sender explaining Stiles was unavailable while driving.
Stiles says drivers who text take their eyes off the road for about five seconds on average. Someone driving at 55 mph would typically travel the length of a football field while texting. He also pointed to stats showing that texting while driving can be more dangerous than driving drunk.
Texting behind the wheel is dangerous for any driver, but Stiles is especially worried about teens.
"There's enough distractions for all of us, but someone learning to drive may not understand you have a 2,500-pound vehicle that's a lethal weapon when it's not pointed in right direction," he said. "Anyone needs to understand that, but particularity a 16-year-old really needs to understand that."
Parents can set up the app with a password, so their teen can't shut it off. And if the teen tries to delete the app, it will text the parent and let them know.
Stiles also thinks employers could be interested in installing the app on employees' phones to help avoid liability that could come with employees crashing while texting behind the wheel.
Professionals who don't want to text while driving, but don't want to appear rude by ignoring a text from a client, are also being targeted.