Sprint today introduced a new “anti-distracted” driving service this week, amid growing concerns about phone use in cars.
The Overland Park, Kan.-based carrier said its “Drive First” app aims to reduce distracted driving by redirecting calls to voicemail and blocking text message alerts.
The app detects if a smartphone user is in transit and automatically sends auto-responses notifying people that they are driving. Users can still make 911 emergency calls, and the app allows music and navigation programs to run.
Still, the app can’t tell if a user is driving or just a passenger, and there’s an override button to return the phone to full functionality. Override actions can be tracked by account administrator, such as a parent or employer, through a web portal.
Sprint hopes that Drive First will head off more drastic legislation against the in-car usage of mobile phones, especially as concerns about distracted driving grow.
Earlier this month, a Consumer Report indicated 63 percent of respondents under the age of 30 years old said they had used a cellphone while driving in the past month, and 30 percent of them texted during that period. Nearly 1,000 people have been killed in cellphone-related distracted driving accidents in 2009, the last year figures are available, according to the Transportation Department.
In January, T-Mobile announced a similar service called “DriveSmart.” AT&T is reportedly considering a similar product, while Verizon markets a block-while-driving service to commercial customers.
Sprint will begin preloading Android devices with Drive First later this year. The service will cost $2 a month per device.