AT&T Working to Let Parents Remotely Disable Their Kids’ Smartphones While They Drive

    August 15, 2012
    Josh Wolford
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AT&T, if not the most dedicated, is definitely the most visible company out there when it comes to saying no to texting and driving. You’ve probably seen their TV ads as of late, featuring victims and the families of victims discussing their own tragedies at the hands of texting and driving. As of now, they’re some of the most powerful advertisements on television.

It’s all part of AT&T’s larger anti-texting while driving campaign called “It Can Wait.” Earlier this year, AT&T commissioned a survey into teen texting activities and found that 43% of teens admitted to texting while driving. But the truly interesting figure from the study was that 97% of the same teens admitted that it was a dangerous activity.

Three-quarters of the teens in the survey said that texting while driving was a “common practice” among their friends.

So what’s the takeaway here? Maybe it’s that teens are going to do it, no matter how conscious they are of its danger. At least maybe that’s what AT&T took away from the survey, because they’re in the process of developing technology that would take the texting and driving choice out of the teenagers’ hands.

Today, the company released a roadmap of sorts, complete with the details of key initiatives within their “It Can Wait” campaign. As a part of that release, AT&T unveiled this video that documents the steps they are taking to put teen phone activity while driving in the parents’ control.

Here’s how the software would work; Parents can receive text messages that alert them to when their teens are trying to make calls or send text messages. And it can also notify parents of any “excessive speeding” going on, as well as plot the teen’s course on a map.

Or, they can just remotely disable any and all phone functions – that means sending and receiving texts and calls.

Check it out below:

“Our goal is to save lives,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. “I hear from far too many people whose lives have been forever changed by a texting-while-driving accident, and together, we want to spread the word about how deadly a single text can be. Texting and driving should be as unacceptable as drinking and driving.”

Texting while driving is a bad idea. No matter how good you think you are at multitasking, you’re going to be distracted – and it’s not up for debate. But is this concept a bit too much? Creepy, perhaps? I mean, we could also plant GPS chips inside our kids that double as shock collars.

But that would be a little overbearing, right?

  • http://www.frankareed.com Frank Reed

    Smart. Kids who prove that they are a threat to themselves and others because they aren’t aware enough of the impact of their actions deserve this.

    Studies show that the distraction and driving impairment of texting while driving (or even talking for that matter) approaches and often passes that of being drunk and driving.

    If a person is not responsible enough to get this simple precept then this makes perfect sense.

    Having a teen and a soon to be teen, I hope they make good decisions but there is no guarantee. As for their fellow same aged drivers. I simply assume that none of them will. Let’s do what we can to keep them and others safe.

  • Robert Grimshaw

    This is a stupid idea. Do they actually think car buyers will pay extra for a feature like that? If someone wants to text while driving they will find a way. Yes, texting is dangerous while driving. Putting technology in a vehicle which will drive up the price of a new car is not the answer. This is another example of some idiot behind a desk trying to justify their job. Then you’ll get the pencil pusher who thinks we should make it mandatory … yeah, that’ll go over big time.

  • SiriOUS Apple

    This is a neat idea, but how does the smartphone know if the user is in the passenger’s seat or in the back-seat?

    If it can’t tell, maybe by GPS positioning, it’s a great feature otherwise.

    I had this problem with programming the stereo of my car, which said I could only use advanced navigation features when the car was parked. So I kept driving to a gas station instead, reducing my dependence on technology.

    Besides, with AT&T’s seemingly core product, being text (voice calls are dropped often), it may be best to choose a different provider, perhaps T-Mobile would work better because it seems that was the reason for the previous merger/acquistion attempt included anti-trust lawyers from multiple presidential administraitons to prevent family with kids that use AT&T’s network from sending text messages while driving.

    Hopefully the updated IPhone 6 with Siri will address this, by speaking incoming text messages aloud, and also with voice-recognition software (like Android) can send text messages when needed.


    • lynda

      That’s a great question, but perhaps they all should be paying attention to each other. My daughter’s AT&T service will cut off immediately if she texts and drives on our crazy Dallas roads. We run data 4G LTE and she is spoiled but she can go right back to the 20 Century soon!

  • barbara smith

    I love this idea and wish the carriers like AT&T would do more to protest kids’ texting; you don’t see enough ads (but then, I don’t read teen magazines or have kids). All I know is that my salon clients often brag about texting and driving “at the speed of 4G LTE.” It really angers me but I have to watch what I say.