If you're the sort of person who's tempted to take calls while driving -- or worse, answer text messages -- there are dozens of apps to help curb your addition. Now, Sprint is making the process even easier by pre-installing the Drive First app on every Android phone.
Drive First works like many other anti-distracted-driving apps we've seen, including PhoneGuard, SafeCell, and DriveSafe.ly. When the phone's accelerometer registers a certain speed (usually around 10 mph), it automatically shuts off most features: incoming calls are sent straight to voicemail; text-message alerts are turned off and an auto-response tells the sender that the phone's owner is currently unavailable; and most apps are disabled, too.
Drive First does have a few interesting differences, though: it allows users to pre-select three apps for use while driving (e.g. Google Maps or other navigation services), and it allows the sender to communicate with three pre-selected contacts (e.g. parents, spouses, employers). Also, instead of paying for the app outright, users pay a monthly fee. At $2 a pop -- per phone, plus tax -- that could generate some sizable cash for Sprint.
We should point out, however, that even though Drive First will come pre-installed on Sprint phones, it won't be automatically activated; users will have to opt-in to the service. Nevertheless, we expect a fair number of folks to do so, especially parents and bosses. We also expect other wireless providers to offer similar services soon -- especially AT&T, given the extra mouths it now has to feed.
Drive First should be available on Sprint's Android handsets during the third quarter of 2011. For the curious, we've pasted an official press release below.
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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), March 22, 2011 - In the lead-up to National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Sprint (NYSE:S) CEO Dan Hesse today announced to attendees at the International CTIA WIRELESS 2011 Show that Sprint later this year will offer Sprint® Drive FirstTM – the wireless carrier's first safe-driving solution to help wireless consumers safely manage their mobile devices and focus on driving while they're behind the wheel.
"As a parent, I am proud that Sprint is offering distracted driving solutions like Sprint Drive First, which effectively helps wireless customers manage their usage, stay safe behind the wheel and focus their attention on driving," Hesse said. "As mobile data usage continues to grow in popularity, Sprint wants to ensure its wireless consumers engage in safe behavior for themselves and others."
Sprint plans to make Drive First available in the third quarter of 2011 on AndroidTM mobile phones for Sprint customers and will require a $2-per-month charge (excluding surcharges and taxes) for each device that utilizes its features.
Created by Location Labs, Sprint Drive First is designed to do the following when driving is detected:
- Lock the driver's cell phone screen and redirect calls to voice mail.
- Block text-message alerts and auto-respond to the message sender that the driver is currently unavailable.
- Allow access to three key contacts and three mobile applications, such as GPS navigation.
- Give parents and business administrators Web portal access to configure Drive First for their teens' or employees' mobile devices.
"Location Labs continues to develop best-of-breed personal and family safety services that unlock the power of smart devices for users of all ages," said Location Labs CEO Tasso Roumeliotis. "We are thrilled to partner with Sprint, which is once again showing a real commitment to family and personal safety by offering DriveFirst to Sprint customers."
Attendees at the International CTIA WIRELESS 2011 Show can demo Sprint Drive First and other distracted driving solutions at the "Sprint Innovation Station" in the exhibitor hall.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and along with Sprint Drive First, Sprint will introduce a new interactive distracted-driving pledge that Sprint customers will be able to access online.
Since 2005, Sprint has advocated on behalf of its customers and employees on the dangers of distracted driving and worked with schools, nonprofit organizations and product developers to combat texting while driving. Sprint also has been an advocate for its employee pledge to not text and drive.
Sprint recently participated in an episode of ABC's Extreme Makeover:Home Edition (Sundays, 8 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. CT) that focused on distracted driving – donating more than $100,000 in mobile devices, wireless service and a monetary contribution to the Brown family of Wellman, Texas, in connection with the Remember Alex Brown Foundation.
More information on Sprint's distracted driving efforts can be found at sprint.com/focusondriving. At this site visitors can access a database of useful distracted-driving mobile applications, and find other helpful resources on responsible driving behavior.