Area Woman Develops Free Mobile App to Combat Texting and Driving
Shavonne Jones of AT&T hopes the DriveMode app will save lives by keeping drivers' focus on the road.
It happens to many every day.
The beckon of a digitized "ding" alerting cell users that a text message has come in while you're behind the wheel. One woman, an AT&T Detroit employee, has come up with a solution to combat the problematic temptation of texting while driving.
"It's kind of like an out-of-office alert," Jones said of the free DriveMode app. "You can program your message: 'I’m driving right now. I can text you back later.'"
Shavonne Jones' DriveMode app allows users who download it to program a message that it automatically sends to callers and texters. It correlates with the mission of AT&T's “It Can Wait” campaign, which urges drivers to wait until they're no longer behind the wheel to send text messages.
Although texting and driving is illegal in Michigan, as it is in many states, the problem remains.
Using the app is simple. Drivers simply download and activate it in the car by tapping the "on" feature. Then, a programmable out-of-office-type reply is sent to incoming callers and texters. Those calling from a landline are automatically directed to voicemail.
However, it can be programmed to take calls from up to five emergency contacts, she said. For example, if a user programs the number of their child's school as a special emergency contact, the caller will not receive the I-can't-talk-I'm-driving message or be routed to voicemail.
"It is an 'everybody’s app'…young, old, everyone," she said. Still, Jones said, "Teenagers are doing more texting and driving than anybody."
More than 100,000 have downloaded the app. Jones has been recognized with national awards and made several appearances nationwide to promote the app.
"(Texting and driving) has caused deaths, and such sorrow and pain," Jones said. "I just want this app to save lives, literally."