In today’s hyper-connected world, the lure of the cellphones, smartphones, and other devices is always present. Take public transportation to work and you’re likely to find the majority of passengers glued to their devices. The problem, however, is that, because many people carry their devices with them at all times, there’s a temptation to talk, text, or surf even when it’s not a great idea to do so — namely when driving. The National Safety Council estimates that nearly 30 percent of traffic accidents involve drivers using their cellphones or texting. That’s over 1.5 million accidents caused by cellphones.
JustApps Technology is announcing the release today of a new Android app, called JustDrive, that aims to help families and businesses curb distracted driving by addressing one of the leading causes of cellular distraction: texting. The app provides a daily report via email to parents or owners (a.k.a. administrators) indicating a texting violation while driving has occurred. Premium upgrades are then available at additional costs, and offer administrators a view into cell usage, speed of the car during texting, geographical location of the car, distance, etc.
JustApps Chief Sales Officer (and 3-time Super Bowl champion) Darren Woodson told me that there are quite a few apps out there attempting to solve the problem of distracted driving, but generally speaking, they do this by locking the user out of their phone. Woodson says that JustDrive is striving for a more moderate approach, and is trying to avoid becoming Big Brother by allowing its users to retain the ability to text, Tweet, or call while driving, but the admin, whether it be a parent or a boss, will receive an alert letting them know that it happened.
Because the phone senses how fast the car is traveling and allows admins to set alerts based on speed thresholds (as in every time the phone exceeds 70 mph and you start texting away, it sends an alert), there’s a potential problem. What if you were sitting in the backseat of the car while texting, and your pal Steve happened to exercise his lead foot? This is the other advantage to the app, as it allows users to text and call while they’re a passenger without shutting down the app or requiring a complicated override.
The app also offers geo-fencing and speed limit features, and allows you to put time limits on texting, like no texting between 2am and 5am, which will come in handy for parents with text-happy kids or folks who might be inclined to send a late night text after a few libations. JustDrive will be available on the iPhone in the next few weeks and will be headed to BlackBerry in the near future as well. Woodson also said that the team is planning on adding an array of features in the near future, like collision detection, for example, that will use a phone’s accelerometer and GPS to detect impact and communicate that with the administrator.
The app setup is quick and easy, too, as users need to only enter their email and password to setup the app’s basic functions, and advanced features like geo-fencing can be set up in one or two steps and monitored through a phone or the admin’s web interface. The interface has some usability, too, and allows admins to monitor groups, like family or employees (think cab company owners, for example), and numerous devices. Users can also use it to see when, where, and at what speed a violation occurred and have it mapped out for them on Yahoo Maps. (The one drawback being that it’s not Google Maps.)
Woodson said that he got involved with JustDrive for the very reason that he has three kids and knows that teenagers especially have a penchant for texting, and the app is a great way for him to ensure their safety while on the roads without being an overbearing dad. He also said he was “run off the road” by someone who was texting, something a surprising amount of people can relate to. One has to think that this is something parents could really get excited about.
And it also appears that Woodson, who also works as an NFL analyst for ESPN, has shared the app with a few stars from the sports world (and ESPN), who will soon be publicly endorsing it, so there’s a chance you could be hearing a lot about JustDrive in the future.
But, regardless of star power, the app is leveraging technology to solve a real problem and doing it with a differentiating spin, so it’s worth checking out. Especially for those drunk texters among us.