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Devices That Limit Texting May Be One Part of Solution to Distracted Driving

Some people in Texas see the problems with texting while driving, and are promoting a unique way to deal with it.

Jeanne and Johnny Brown live in Wellman, and when their daughter lost her life when her truck rolled over in November 2009, the pair looked for answers. They found out that Alex, 17, had been texting before the crash occurred.

They have begun traveling in the Southwest, including a recent trip to Oklahoma City, promoting a device that they say will limit the ability for teens to text while driving. Called Get Home Safe, it attaches to the vehicle's on-board computer and disables cell phones while the car is in operation.

"This automatically sends a bluetooth signal to that phone that disables it. It won't turn it off, it just blocks texting," said Jeanne, according to News9on6.com. They later brought their message to the Oprah Winfrey Show.

There are a growing number of applications and devices that are designed to keep teens and other drivers from becoming distracted while messaging friends. For example, ProTextor uses the GPS included in many cell phones to prevent the use of text mesaging when speeds determine the car is in motion.

Software engineer John Tsinonis created the program while attending the funeral of another young teen whose life was lost due to texting. It includes an auto-response to let others know that the ProTextor user is currently driving.

It highlights a problem that many in law enforcement and in legislatures are finding: while laws banning various types of cell phone use are on the rise throughout the country, some argue that it's nearly impossible to enforce on a regular basis.

Defensive driving courses in North Carolina are taking a different tack after N.C. state troopers reported just 21 tickets in the Charlotte metropolitan area. There, law enforcement are taking teens onto closed road courses and offering them the chance to see how texting influences their driving.

"It really just kind of hits home and makes you realize that once you send that text message, you're paying attention to that phone and everything else just seems to go away for a bit," high school senior Laura Burton told WSOC-TV.

While tickets are a possibility in many regions of Texas, graduates of traffic safety courses who practice defensive driving may soon realize that they have to take the responsibility for choosing not to use a cell phone that could lead to a collision or worse.

In fact, some statistics show that 6,000 teens die annually, though the number of total drivers is perhaps larger because little focus has been made on older motorists. Unfortunately, some people surveyed have said that even though acquaintances have been involved in fatal accidents, they continue to whip out their iPhone or other device.