Screencap from the Cell Cease websiteEnlarge Photo
Given all the news about distracted driving -- especially the problem of teens and their tendency to text behind the wheel -- it was only a matter of time before someone came out with a solution. And now, as they say, there's an app for that: Cell Cease.
Cell Cease uses the GPS built into many smartphones to determine whether or not the device is moving. When Cell Cease senses that the phone is traveling at more than five miles per hour, it disables phone and text functions. When phone's speed drops below five miles per hour, everything's hunky-dory again. Parents install the app on their teens' phones using a secret PIN, so the kids can't disable the service themselves.
The upside? Teen drivers (or any driver whose phone hosts the app) will theoretically spend more time focused on the road than on making calls and sending text messages. As far as we can tell, the service doesn't interfere with MP3 functionality, which is, you know, like, totally important for cruising. And certain numbers can be put onto Cell Cease's "approved" list; calls can be made to and received from those numbers at any time. (911 is included on that list by default.)
The downside? Well, for starters, the app can't tell if you're behind the wheel or sitting in the passenger's seat. The app also can't determine when you're on a train, ferry, vaporetto, bateau-mouche, or other public transit, so chatting to your BFF on the cross-town bus isn't possible. (Though now that we think of it, that's probably an upside for your fellow passengers.)
Worst of all: the app only works on GPS-enabled devices using the Windows Mobile operating system. In other words: not the iPhone, not any Android phones, no Blackberries, and no Nokias -- which are, unfortunately, exactly the sort of flashy phones that teens tend to prefer. Cell Cease should work fine on devices like the Samsung Intrepid, but if your kid prefers handsets like that, you probably don't have the distracted driving problem in the first place.
Bonus: if you have a little time to kill, check the Cell Cease FAQ. We don't know who wrote it, but they're either non-native English speakers or the second-most brilliant writers on Planet Earth.