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Can't Resist The Urge To Text While You Drive? These Apps Can Help

Courtesy of Erik Wood
This screen grab shows the OTTER App.

During the holidays, many of us may spend more time behind the wheel. And as we sit in traffic, it may be tempting to pick up the phone and send a quick text, but that message could cost you.

In King County alone, deputies issued 14,000 citations for talking or texting while driving. While a one-time fine may only hurt your wallet, it’s a reminder to drive distraction-free.

According to Staci Hoff from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, “about 25 percent” of fatal accidents in the state are caused by distracted drivers.

“Studies have shown a risk of four times your crash risk if you’re talking on a cell phone all the way up to a 23 times crash risk if you’re texting, so we definitely know that it’s dangerous,” Hoff said. “The problem with our statistics — and [this] has been reported by law enforcement officers — is that it is very challenging to capture.”

To help you focus on the road, Erik Wood has developed OTTER App. Wood first thought of the product after his 3-year-old daughter was nearly hit by a woman texting driving in Seattle.

OTTER App works by automatically silencing your phone, dimming the screen lights and texting anyone trying to contact the user, letting him or her know the driver is busy. When the user reaches vehicle speed, the app immediately kicks in. It’s similar to many currently available for download for Android and IPhone devices, such as Text-Star, Texecution and DriveScribe.

However, Wood said OTTER App is largely about learning to live life fully without distractions, no matter what you are doing.

“Whether you’re going into a movie theater, if a student is at school watching a lecture, they can hit the auto-reply,” Wood said. “They can set it for a certain amount of time and their phone stays dark and all texts are replied to with customizable replies.”

With the new year upon us, Wood says it’s the perfect time to challenge each other to leave phones behind when gathering at the holiday table.

“I think if you can all do that, the turkey is going to taste better, the cranberry pudding is going to be more enjoyable, you’re going to actually realize what your grandfather looks like this year because you’re not looking down at your text,” he said.