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Cell phone app to reduce distracted driving auto accidents?

The statistics about the dangers of distracted driving are well-publicized. Many in New Jersey and across the U.S. have read that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 3,331 deaths from distracted driving-related auto accidents and about 387,000 injuries from such accidents in 2011 alone. Some people cannot seem to put their phones and other handheld electronic devices away when they get behind the wheel, however. 

A new cell phone application released in July 2013 called OFF Mode aims to help people hang up and drive. When the application is engaged, it blocks all incoming calls, emails and text message alerts from appearing on the phone's screen. Those attempting to contact the phone's owner when the application is active receive automatic messages saying that the person is unavailable. 

The application may have particular use for New Jersey drivers. Readers of this New Jersey Motor Vehicle Accidents Blog may recall that in June 2013 some New Jersey legislators proposed a bill that would allow police officers to review a driver's cell phone records after an auto accident if police have probable cause to believe that the driver was using a cell phone at the time of the accident in violation of state driving laws. Having OFF Mode on a phone could help show that a driver was not distracted by a phone if involved in an accident. 

Rather than relying on a cell phone application to help prevent distracted driving, drivers would do better to learn how to put their phones in their pockets or purses while driving and simply not look at them until the trip is over. Being accessible all the time via cell phone has its advantages, but no phone call or text message is so important that it is worth risking your life -- and the lives of others on the road -- over. 

Source: FOX2, "NEW MOBILE APP TO REDUCE DISTRACTED DRIVING," July 15, 2013 

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