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Want to reduce your kid’s risk of a Fort Myers car accident? There’s an app for that

If you want to prevent your teen from speeding or text messaging while driving, there is an app for that.

Our Cape Coral car accident attorneys reported last week on our Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, that the Countdown2Drive program has been aimed at 13- and 14-year-olds in the latest effort to reduce the risk of teenage car accidents.
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But Florida is one of a rapidly dwindling number of states that have no laws on the books that prevent drivers from text messaging. The Governors Highway Safety Association reports 30 states have outlawed text messaging by drivers. Eight others outlaw the use of hand-held cell phones by all drivers, and still others prohibit young drivers from texting or using cell phones while behind the wheel.

But with Florida lawmakers standing idly by, a Florida company has developed PhoneGuard, a $29.99 smart-phone application that uses GPS to disable a phone’s texting, web surfing and e-mail features at speeds greater than 10 mph. The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel recently reported that whole families are subscribing to the plan.

The dangers of texting and driving are well documented. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that about 5,000 motorists were killed last year and another 500,000 were injured in accidents caused by distracted driving. And a recent study by the University of North Texas concluded that texting caused 16,141 deaths between 2002 and 2007. It also blamed text messaging for about 75 percent of all distracted driving deaths.

Research conducted by Car and Driver recently found that a driver who is texting takes an extra 30 feet to stop, compared to an extra 15 feet that is typically required by a driver under the influence of alcohol.

But PhoneGuard doesn’t stop there. The program also includes SpeedAlert, which notifies the administrator, typically a parent or employer, when the phone has traveled over a certain speed. The program sends a text message giving the speed and a map location, the Palm Beach Post reported.

TimeOut is another feature of the program, which permits parents to set limits on a phone’s hours of operation. The PhoneGuard app is available for the Blackberry and Android phones and is expected to be available on the iPhones and Windows Mobile devices as early as next month.

And PhoneGuard isn’t the only program already on the market. True SMS-Life Saver pp for the iPhone is available for $1.99 and others are sure to follow.