MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Texting while driving could soon be illegal in Tennessee. A new bill to ban texting behind the wheel awaits the Governor's signature.
In Arkansas, the ban's already on the books, and goes into effect later this year. Still, you see it everywhere - even at the Maxwell Driving School, where owner-instructor Max Maxwell says the danger is not a laughing matter.
"Driving in and of itself is multi-tasking anyway," Maxwell said. "Then you throw in trying to text. I think it's a recipe for disaster."
Enter Textecution, an application marketed and designed for parents to install on their kids' phones. Textecution is supposed to stop motorists from texting and driving at the same time.
Action News 5 texted Textecution's owner, creator, and innovator Joe LeMire about the program. He wrote back, "we know txtg is here 2 stay and new drivers lead the pack...deadly combo. Textecution will help the parent train the teen and keep everyone safe."
LeMire sent us a copy to try out. One problem: for now, the application only runs on phones with the Android operating system. LeMire says his company is working on making it compatible with other systems, but currently, it works on only one phone: the Google G1.
One of Action News 5's editors owns a G1, and was brave enough to let us borrow it for this story.
After installing the program, we set out in a car. At 5mph, we could text with no problem. Same at 10mph. As we accelerated past 10mph, all text, email, and internet functions on the phone automatically shut down.
At 70mph - no texting was allowed.
Textecution does allow parents to give their children permission to text at high speeds, for instance, if the child is a passenger in the vehicle. If the parent chooses to use this function, the program can be disabled for four hours at a time.
Tennessee State Representative Jon Lunberg, however, says such programs are not enough. Lunberg sponsored a bill in the state house banning texting while driving for all ages.
The bill passed, and awaits the governor's signature.
"When you do it on the roadway, it's inherently dangerous." Lunberg said.
If you break the law, the fine is $50, plus an additional $10 in court costs. By comparison, if you own the correct phone, Textecution will run you $9.95.
LeMire says the program will be available on more phones by July, and his company is meeting with representatives from the insurance industry to get further backing for the program.