With national and state attention focused on driver safety and distracted driving, Sprint is doing its part with its Drive First app for Android phones that will help to re-focus the attention of young drivers to the road and away from their phones. Sprint Drive First, which is now available as a download and will be pre-installed in all Android smartphones launching on the carrier’s network at the end of Q3, will be able to sense if the car is moving more than 10 MPH. When it senses that a car is in motion, the app will lock the phone, send calls automatically to voicemail, and silence all audible notifications.
Here’s how the app will work:
Shortly after the car exceeds 10 mph – determined using GPS and cell tower triangulation – the mobile phone will be locked. If the driver is using the phone when Sprint Drive First engages, the call will end and the phone lock screen will appear. Anyone texting the driver will receive an automated message indicating the person they texted is driving. The message is customizable by the account holder.
A locked device displays a home screen with exit and emergency 911 buttons to override the app. Sprint Drive First can be overridden if the user is a passenger in a car, on a bus or train, but the parent or account holder can choose to receive notifications when the service is overridden.
Parents have a choice of programming up to five phone numbers to ring through when the phone is locked as well as allowing functionality of three apps, such as navigation, music or weather.
When the application no longer detects movement it unlocks and full device functionality resumes. Sprint Drive First takes into account stop-and-go traffic, so the driver needs to be sitting idle for a few minutes before it will unlock.
The app is now debuting for the Android platform and will be coming to BlackBerry and other operating systems in the coming months according to the carrier’s press release.
At this point, Sprint is charging $2 per month for the Drive First app, which could be a valuable investment in safety if you have teen drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 20 percent of all traffic accidents in 2009 involved distracted driving, of which drivers under the age of 20 were responsible for a disproportionately large number of those accidents. And the chief cause of driver distraction is the mobile phone. Given Sprint’s evolving portfolio of devices that now offer powerful features beyond just emails, phone calls, and texting, young drivers now have more causes for distraction with their mobile handset, and the Drive First app is a nice first step in combating distracted driving.