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Sprint Drive First Aims to Cut Distracted Driving

2011 Honda CR-V

2011 Honda CR-V

Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint and the wireless carrier’s widely-recognized TV “face,” took to the stage at the International CTIA WIRELESS – 2011 Show in Overland Park, Kansas March 22 to announce the company will launch Sprint Drive First, an app to combat distracted driving, in the third quarter of this year.

While the solution may not be very popular with teen drivers, it is certain to be attractive to millions of parents concerned about their teens’ safety while driving. 

What Sprint Drive First is and what it does

Created by Location Labs in partnership with Sprint, Sprint Drive First is a mobile phone app that will be available first on Android mobile phones for Sprint customers. It will require a $2-per-month charge (excluding surcharges and taxes) for each device utilizing its Sprint Drive First features.

Specifically, Sprint Drive First is designed to do the following when driving is detected:

  • Locks the driver’s cell phone screen and redirects calls to voice mail
  • Blocks text message alerts and auto-responds to the message sender that the driver is currently unavailable
  • Allows access to three key contacts and three mobile applications, such as GPS navigation
  • Gives parents and business administrators Web portal access to configure Drive First for their teens’ or employees’ mobile devices

The announcement of Sprint Drive First app is a lead-up to April’s National Distracted Driving Month. Sprint will also introduce a new interactive distracted driving pledge that its customers will be able to access online.

Of course, others besides parents of teens will be able to benefit from the new Sprint Drive First app. Any person who drives and wants to responsibly manage their wireless usage – if they’re Sprint customers with Android mobile devices – can pony up $2 per month per device for the Drive First features later this year.

Sprint Drive First versus T-Mobile DriveSmart

Savvy consumers probably already know that T-Mobile has their own version of this type of app pre-loaded on certain mobile devices (such as the LG Optimus T). There are two versions of the T-Mobile service, DriveSmart and DriveSmart Plus. From a review of the T-Mobile site, the Sprint Drive First and T-Mobile DriveSmart Plus apps seem remarkably similar. The chief difference appears to be in pricing. Whereas Sprint will offer the Drive First features for $2 per phone, T-Mobile’s basic DriveSmart app is free, while the DriveSmart Plus (which most closely resembles the Sprint app) costs $4.99 per month per phone.

Making the announcement, Hesse said, “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 acknowledged that “as mobile date usage continues to grow in popularity, Sprint wants to ensure its wireless customers engage in safe behavior for themselves and others.”

FamilyCarGuide contacted Location Labs to inquire about the differences between the two wireless carriers’ apps (Location Lab created both of them), but representatives were off at the CTIA convention. When we hear back from them, we’ll post any relevant information in the comments section below.

Quick poll

FamilyCarGuide is interested in what you think about these types of solutions to help curb distracted driving. Would you pay extra for such features? Would you sign up for yourself or for a teen driver in the family? Or, do you think wireless carriers should provide the service without charge? Let us know in the comments section below.

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[Sprint, Location Labs, T-Mobile]

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  1. Here is the information from Location Labs: "Both Sprint Drive First and T-Mobile DriveSmart Plus automatically detect motion and put the phone into driving mode when the user is driving, preventing texting and calling while driving. In both cases, the application leverages Location Labs’ Sparkle technology, which provides carriers with a broad array of powerful location, access, and controls solutions, of which No Texting While Driving is only the most recent. Location Labs is thrilled that industry leaders like T-Mobile and Sprint have shown a real commitment to addressing the national epidemic of distracted driving using our Sparkle platform and we hope that, together, these solutions can save lives.”
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