Smart Apps to Keep Your Teen from Texting and Driving

If you are like most parents, the “no texting and driving” comment is a daily exchange before your teen heads out the door, car keys in hand. A 2012 U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) survey found that drivers 18 to 20 showed the highest level of mobile phone involvement in crashes or near-crashes. The study cited that those drivers were three times more likely to read or send emails or texts while driving than drivers 25 and older.

Few teen drivers are thinking between “LOLs” and “BTWs” that sending or receiving a text takes his or her eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is the equivalent (at 55 mph) of driving the length of an entire football field—blind!

Here are just a few apps (the number is always growing) that might help you in the never-ending quest to keep your teens from checking their phones while driving. While we do not endorse one app over another, we do think when it comes to family mobile safety, one of these could be a great fit for your family.

DriveMode is from AT&T and automatically launches once the car is moving at more than 25 mph. DriveMode responds to all incoming texts and emails, and lets the sender know the recipient is driving and will get back to them. It is available for Androids and Blackberries. The app is free.

DriveOff is an Android app that detects when drivers are traveling over 10 mph. The app shuts off apps and blocks incoming calls and texts. The app is free.

TextBuster requires you to actually install a hardware device into your teen’s car. The hardware temporarily disables text messaging, email and Internet access on your kids’ phone while the vehicle is moving. It is a bit pricier at $199. 

Canary is an app that works for both iOS and Android devices. Canary lets parents see their child’s cell phone use in real time, so they can know if their son or daughter uses the phone while driving more than 12 mph. The drawback here is that this app does not disable texts. So, while Canary has great reporting, it may not steer a teen away from the temptation to text and drive. The app is free.

DriveScribe monitors the driver’s speed, and blocks texts and calls while the car is in motion. The app will also tell your teen driver to slow down if they are going too fast. The driver must activate the app “start trip” before driving, then “end trip” when they arrive at their destination. It works on iOS and Androids. The app is free. is a mobile application that reads text messages and emails aloud in real time and automatically responds without drivers touching the mobile phone and works for both iOS and androids. The app is free.

Teens are not the only ones texting and driving. A 2012 AT&T survey found that 41% of teens say they’ve seen their parents text and drive too. The #1 defense against texting and driving is to lay down the “no texting and driving” rule in your family, set consequences, then mindfully—and consistently—model the lost art of safe driving for your kids.


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