AMES – Text messaging and mobile phones are a popular method for individuals to communicate – even when driving, which has led the Iowa Department of Transportation to develop its TXTL8R app. The app that is being developed to encourage safe driver behavior will be released in early 2014.
To promote save driving habits from the start, the Iowa DOT is planning to cover the app cost for Iowa drivers 14 to 17 years old.
Currently, the Iowa DOT is working to secure a third-party company to develop the app. Once a vendor has been chosen, the final functionality will be decided. However, the proposed recommendations include the following:
• The app would temporarily disable text and phone capabilities once a speed of 15 mph is reached.
• People texting the driver will be sent a message that the driver is unavailable and will read the text once they’ve reached their location.
• The app would also establish a secure portal that will allow individuals to monitor the app holder’s driving behaviors by providing graphic, route specific reports that document behaviors, such as speeding, excessive deceleration, and failure to stop at stop signs.
The TXTL8R app will be offered to all Iowa drivers on a voluntary basis. The Iowa DOT will not have access to the individual driving data or history of any individual using the app, but will receive data with all individual information removed for safety research and analysis only.
Iowa law prohibits all motor vehicle drivers from using a hand-held electronic communication device, including temporarily mounted devices to write, send or read a text message while driving. Minors holding an instruction permit, intermediate license, minor’s school license or minor’s restricted license are also prohibited from using all electronic communication devices, including cell phones or an electronic entertainment device, while driving.