On the heels of the Department of Transportation’s proposed rule to ban handheld cell phone use by commercial drivers, I’ve been hearing from haulers who object to being singled out on the issue, as seems to be the modus operandi of this department when it comes to driving behavior of late. Given the predominance of texting and talking four-wheelers on the highways today, most would prefer any ban to be on all drivers using handhelds, regardless of race, sex, creed or, well, job. “That’s why they make a headset for these things” — as it was put to me yesterday.
Take heart, at least, that truckers aren’t the only ones who realize the extent of the problem beyond the big-rig realm. One software developer out there — Erik Wood, maker of the Otter App — after his daughter was nearly run down by a texting driver, took it upon himself to develop a tool with a big goal: to make safety “an integral part of texting culture,” aimed at both business and consumer realms.
An automated safety capability within the app works with smartphones’ GPS functionality to remove the temptation to text behind the wheel by preventing incoming text and/or call ringtones from being sounded when in motion. Available on Android and Blackberry devices (coming on the iPhone and Win Mobile), two versions of the Otter App also allow the user to specify autoreplies for customizable durations and enable one-touch text autoreply, equally customizable.
The full-function, business version of the app is available for $3.99, the “OtterUrban” for 99 cents. For a demo of how it works, visit the Otter App site, or check out the vid with Erik Wood below.