AT&T Inc., which has its Midwest headquarters in Hoffman Estates, has launched a new app called DriveMode. It's like an out-of-office autoreply, but instead it's for your car while you're driving.
The app can be set manually before you or your teen starts driving. Then if someone tries to call or text you during the ride, it automatically sends out a message telling the person you're driving and unavailable. The app also prevents you from browsing on the web as well, said AT&T spokeswoman Mollie West.
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"We launched this now because new drivers are now getting behind the wheel and driving back to school," she said.
The app is part of an ongoing campaign that many wireless providers are doing to stop texting while driving accidents. AT&T's campaign is called "It can wait," which aims to "stigmatize" texting while driving. So far about 63,000 people have signed a pledge not to drive and text at AT&T's "Txtng & Drivng ... It Can Wait" pledge site.
This DriveMode app was the idea of AT&T employee Shavonne Jones of Detroit. She lost a friend in a car accident because the other driver was texting.
While the app is free to download, standard text messaging rates apply each time the autoreply message is sent out.
The app also has an "allow list" where you can select up to five contact numbers, such as roadside assistance and family, to send and receive calls while the app is running. Also, 911 is an automatically approved number and can be used from the home screen.
Now, it's free for AT&T Wireless subscribers who have BlackBerrys (www.att.com/drivemode). Other smartphone versions will be available down the road, so to speak. It's available for download through the AT&T AppCenter and the BlackBerry App World stores.
Surfing: The Better Business of Chicago is warning consumers about scams involving vehicles sold online. Scammers attempt to sell vehicles they don't own, and use the ruse that they're moving quickly or going into military deployment. To learn more about such scams, see www.chicago.bbb.org/scam-source.
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