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TXTL8R app focused on stopping texting and driving

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 10:56 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 12:52 p.m. CDT

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is creating a smart phone application with safety in mind.

In early 2014, the state transportation agency will be introducing “TXTL8R” — an app designed for Apple iOS and Android smart phones targeted at teen drivers.

How does it work?

The state transportation agency’s first goal is to prevent drivers from texting behind the wheel.

“The app would temporarily disable text and phone capabilities once a speed of 15 miles per hour is reached,” said Iowa DOT spokeswoman Andrea Henry.

TXTL8R will also provide parents with a desktop portal through which they will be able to monitor their teen’s driving behaviors and detect if the app is uninstalled from the phone.

“It will record behaviors such as sudden accelerations, decelerations, route specific reports, if they ran a stop sign and speeding,” said Henry. “The app is designed to encourage safe driving habits and allow parents to have conversations with their teens about it.”

Of the information collected, Henry said the Iowa DOT will not have access to a specific driver’s information and it is scraped of any identifying information before it is provided to the DOT. The app will not be a license requirement or factor into insurance rates, but will provide the DOT data on driving behaviors across teen drivers as a whole, who use the app.

Texting and teens

Henry said “distracted driving among teens is a big problem.”

According to the Iowa DOT, texting kills more teens than drunk driving, and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teen death.

The Iowa DOT also reported in 2012, 101 crashes occurred in which a driver, under the age of 17, was distracted by phone/device.

“We have had a great response,” said Henry. “It’s been positive.”

Creston Police Chief Paul Ver Meer echoed Henry’s thoughts and said anything that keeps drivers, especially teen drivers, from texting while driving is a “positive thing.”

Iowa DOT will pick up the cost of the app for teens ages 14 to 17. Other motorists will be able to to purchase the app for a fee, which has not yet been determined.

More information about TXTL8R can be viewed online at www.iowadot.gov.

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