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Texting while driving is a serious traffic safety issue that has been in national headlines for the last several years. Across the country, states and cities have been cracking down on drivers who use their cell phones behind the wheel. And yet, laws are not always effective at changing driver behavior. Despite the statistics—which we’ve blogged about before—it is just too tempting to pick up that phone and send a quick message.

Soon, however, our cars might be the ones to protect us from ourselves. USA Today reports that technology has been emerging that could function to actually prohibit a driver from using a cell phone while driving. The program is called “Manage Mobility” and it is software that would disable the texting, emailing and web-browsing functions of a wireless phone in moving vehicles. One goal of the company behind Manage Mobility is to provide the software to governments and businesses who want to make sure their employees are using their electronic devices responsibly.

Of course, Manage Mobility is not the only software on the market. According to the same report from USA Today, a number of applications are now available for cell phones in order to disable some of their functions when in a moving vehicle. Many of these—such as iZup, tXtBlocker, ZoomSafer and CellSafety—use GPS functions to determine when a vehicle is moving and then block texting abilities when the speed is greater than 5 or 10 mph.

Given that texting while driving can be nearly as dangerous as driving drunk, these types of technologies are good news for traffic safety advocates and for parents of young drivers, who are among the most likely to use a cell phone while driving. Distracted driving—including cell phone use—accounts for nearly 20% of traffic accidents involving injury each year and we need all the help we can get in order to get these numbers under control. Cell phone and auto technology that literally prevent these types of behaviors are a great addition to the legislation and driver education initiatives already under way.

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