Wayne Irving drove across the United States to tell people about the dangers of sending text messages while driving.
In 2008, nearly 6,000 Americans died in crashes involving drivers who were busy doing something other than driving. Wayne Irving is a developer of computer software. He created a software program to help people resist the urge to use their cell phones while driving.
WAYNE IRVING: "It was specifically built for people who desire to be responsible, who are looking for a solution to help them not get a ticket, not get in an accident, not risk their life."
Irving calls his software the SMS Replier. It lets drivers get control of their smartphones while driving. The phone sends a message informing callers that the person is busy driving and cannot answer.
WAYNE IRVING: "Everything is going to the smartphones. The smartphone is the new laptop. It's the new notebook computer. They're making them bigger. They're making them more feature-rich. They're stronger, they're more powerful than desktops were just three years ago."
Irving drove his recreational vehicle from California to the National Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C. Along the way, more than ten thousand people signed the vehicle to show support for his cause.
The SMS Replier is only one of many programs that have been created to reduce traffic accidents. For example, the Ford Motor Company is putting one such program in some of its car models to help young drivers. Parents can use a message center on the car to limit its speed. It can also sound warnings if the driver fails to wear a seat belt. Brian Benne of Ford says the system gives parents peace of mind.
BRIAN BENNIE: "We know that teenagers drive distracted and they may not wear their seat belts all the time. This encourages good, safe driving behavior."
Parents do not have to buy a car with built-in technology to control their children's driving. They can add a device to their present car that continuously watches how their children drive. A recording will tell drivers when they speed, drive aggressively or forget to wear their seat belt. The device can inform parents if the driver continues to demonstrate risky driving behavior.
State and local governments are also doing their part to support safe driving. Texting while driving is illegal in thirty states and Washington, D.C. And some states have barred drivers from using handheld cell phones. I'm Shirley Griffith.