Nearly every week, we see the debut of a new app that half-heartedly promises to end distracted driving once and for all. This time around, however, the app du jour does something a little different, which makes it -- if not perfect -- at least a bit better than its predecessors.
Anti-texting smartphone apps like DriveSafe.ly and SafeCell have great intentions, and they've seen notable improvements over the years. But most still have one major flaw: they can't distinguish between drivers and passengers.
This is because most distracted-driving apps rely on a smartphone's built-in accelerometer to gauge when the phone (and hence, its user) is in a moving vehicle. Whether you're sitting in a taxi, on a bus, a ferry, or driving your own vehicle, these apps shut off the flow of incoming calls and text messages once you reach a certain speed. Some allow you to bypass the shutoff, but since many of these apps are installed by parents and bosses, each disabling sends a notification to those monitoring users' habits.
OneProtect from 10n2 Technologies works similarly, offering passengers the ability to disable the app. However, whereas some apps make the disabling process really simple, OneProtect has made it such a challenge that users would be hard pressed to do so while driving.
When your phone passes the threshold speed (typically 15 mph), OneProtect asks whether you're a passenger or the driver. If you're the driver, the phone's manual featured are disabled. You can continue to send and receive hands-free calls, texts, and emails. However, apps -- including all navigation apps other than Google Maps -- will be completely disabled.
If you're a passenger, you're given a short quiz, called an Attention Verification Test, which you have to answer in a timely manner. Pass it, and you can play Angry Birds until the next pit stop. Fail, and it looks like you'll be forced to carry on a conversation with your fellow travelers. Here's a quick (and very quiet) video overview:
OneProtect is currently available for Android and Blackberry operating systems, with iPhone and Windows versions "coming soon". It requires a subscription of $6.95 per month, or $76.45 per year. That makes OneProtect more expensive than free distracted-driving apps, but can you put a price on the safety of a friend or loved one?
Does this seem like the sort of app that you might use for your family or your employees? Sound off in an email, or in the comments below.