Texting and driving may not be illegal in all 50 states yet, but it is a dangerous activity -- especially on touchscreen phones that require more attention to hit the correct key. While you can solve the problem with self control, it doesn't always work. A new app called SafeCell makes it easier to stop texting and talking while driving by offering a cash-equivalent rewards at many retailers.
SafeCell also takes the guesswork out of complying with calling and texting laws that can vary by state, county and city by pushing current cell phone use laws to your phone using GPS and a proprietary database of all the cell phone use and texting laws. This means in addition to earning rewards you can avoid getting a ticket for a local law you didn't know about.
When the app detects that you are traveling over five miles per hour and in a zone with applicable distracted driving laws it will disable phone, texting and email capabilities. If you need to make an emergency call you can click the "Place Emergency Call button" to interrupt the app. While using the app you have the option of sending an auto text message to people who call or text stating that, "The person you are trying to reach is driving and will receive your message upon reaching their destination."
The rewards accrue for every mile driven while obeying any applicable laws. If there are no laws in effect, but you practice safe driving you will still earn rewards. Not obeying laws while driving will take points away from your rewards. If you need to use your phone or are a passenger you can pause or stop the app, but no reward points will be earned during this time.
500 miles logged equals $5 in rewards available for redemption at more than 300 retailers including Apple, Amazon, Cabela's, Macy's and many more. The rewards are issued in $5 increments and max out at $250 a year.
In addition to keeping you in line with the law and giving rewards, SafeCell creates driving logs for parents or employers to use in monitoring their kids' or employees' driving habits. These detailed trip reports provide added incentive to obey the law and safety concerns regarding cell phone use while driving.
In testing the app we found SafeCell did a good job of blocking our incoming calls and texts until we had ended our trip. Since it completely blocks them we didn't experience the temptation to quickly peak at a text message while en route. The one issue we found was that for some reason the app (Android) thought that it had been terminated and subtracted 10 points for a 23 mile trip. It appears that the Android app may need some additional attention when it comes to giving award points, but it works great for keeping you from being distracted while driving.
A SafeCell representative told WalletPop via email that a small percentage of users have experienced a similar issue and the company is working on a fix for this group.
The App is available for the iPhone and Android devices and costs $11.99, a small price compared to a distracted driving ticket, which could run between $100 and $180 for one violation. A BlackBerry version is in the works. The $11.99 purchase price includes life time updates to the app and local laws, after December 28, 2010 the $11.99 price will only cover an annual subscription fee.
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