New apps help prevent distracted driving

Published: Mar. 4, 2015 at 3:04 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2015 at 9:31 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A deadly habit is on the rise. Texting and driving kills thousands of people in the United States every year.

"No parent wants to get that phone call or that knock on the door from the sheriff's saying your child has been involved in a wreck," mother Beth Whelpley said.

Whelpley has three kids. Two of them are already driving, and one will be hitting the roads soon.

All three of them are also addicted to their smart phones. Beth's son Stevie, who is a high school senior, thinks of his iPhone as a second limb.

"I feel bad if I don't reply," explained Stevie. "So I just text them back."

But a quick, five second response could quickly turn deadly.

When driving 55 miles per hour, five seconds is enough time to cover the length of a football field. When texting while driving, you're essentially covering that distance blindfolded.

Still, the siblings say the habit is hard to kick.

WMC Action News 5 asked everyone in the family to download a distracted driving app on their phones and use it for a week.

The app, called Canary, can track your location, speed, and every time you unlock or use your phone. Each time one of the teens unlock their phone while traveling in a car, Mom gets an alert.

Whelpley got constant reports from the app.

"It says that the iPhone was used and that she was going 65 miles an hour while she used it and it tells you the time," said Whelpley. "And if you click, it tells you where she was when she did it."

Whelpley says she was a little alarmed by how frequently her kids use their phones while driving.

But the young drivers themselves were even more disturbed by the usage.

"I was looking at my iPhone report and I was like, 'Oh my goodness,' just looking at how many times you're just not even thinking about it," said Katie Dasaro, Whelpley's daughter. "Picked up your phone and unlocked it."

Though the kids feared the reports could get them in trouble with Mom, things could have been much worse.

Mom cautioned that while the app was useful, it's not enough to solve the distracted driving problem.

"It's bad enough to be in a wreck," said Whelpley. "But to know it is because they were texting and driving or because someone else was texting. And it's not just their lives, it's the other that could be ended as well."

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