12 On Your Side: New app may stop texting while driving

12 On Your Side
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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A new app may help keep you from texting and driving. AT&T launched "Drive Mode" this month. It works by sending an automated text message to incoming texts when your vehicle reaches speeds over 25 miles per hour.

Rarely will you ever catch Taylor McChensy without a phone in her hand.

"I text about every five minutes I'd have to say," the high school senior said.

McChensy, who sends a few hundred text message per day, admits it was hard putting the phone down when she first started driving.

"I was very guilty of texting and driving," she said.

She stopped texting and driving after a close call on the road.

"I'd go to turn right with the cars in front of me, and I'd have to slam on brakes really fast. I was right on that car's tail," she said.

McChensy didn't crash, but some of her classmates have because of texting and driving.

"We know with AT&T national there has been 100,000 accidents or deaths that have been attributed to texting and driving," said Matt Harvey with AT&T.

The phone giant is pushing its "It Can Wait" campaign in school. Now the company is taking another step toward preventing texting and driving in form of an app.

Drive Mode launched in January and it's a pretty simple concept. Your phone won't accept incoming texts when you reach speeds over 25 miles per hour.

"Once you hit 25 miles per hour while driving, it will actually reply to your text messages for you. It will keep your phone from going off and will reply to your emails," Harvey said.

The driver will receive his or her emails and texts once they stop the car.

A driver can either turn on the app every time they go to drive or program the phone to come on automatically when they drive. The option is under settings.

"Do you believe this app is going to to save lives?" asked News 12's Elizabeth Owens asked.

"I do. I honestly do," Harvey said.

McChensy decided after her scare years ago not to tempt fate.

"I don't see my phone light up, that's why I keep it in my purse and I put it on silent so I don't hear it either," the teen said.

She says the app will help a lot of her friends.

"It's an addiction you have and a lot of students my age can't put a phone down," she said.

Drive Mode app is available at the Google Play Store and BlackBerry World.

AT&T is working with vendors to get the app on other devices. It is free and comes pre-loaded.

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