— The Iowa Department of Transportation is preparing to try to do something about the problem of texting and driving, at least with certain teens.
The DOT will soon release a cell phone application called TXTL8R that seeks to block Iowa teens from texting while driving. TXTL8R (text lingo for "text later") will use GPS to disable text and phone capabilities while driving. If someone tries to text the driver, a message is sent that the driver is unavailable and will see the message once they’ve reached their location.
The Iowa DOT is planning to cover the cost for Iowa drivers 14 to 17 years old, which will cost $4 per user, per month. The DOT estimates the cost at over $460,000 a year, all paid for by taxpayers.
Parents would have access to a website that shows driving behavior including speeding, decelerating more than 7 mph per second, and failure to stop at stop signs.
Everything will be kept on record for six months. The government will receive all the data, but they say all individual information will be removed and data will be for "safety research and analysis" only.
What's strange is the app will only work once a speed of 15 mph is reached. It's not difficult to imagine a teen keeping things at 14 mph just to keep texting, especially in slow traffic.
It's also not hard to imagine the distraction that will occur if a teen is in the middle of texting when the vehicle hits 15 mph.
Iowa law already prohibits all drivers from using a hand-held device to send or read a text message, especially teens. So why pay for an app for a 14-year-old driver who can legally drive only with adult supervision?
Iowa defines adult supervision as a:
..."parent, guardian, custodian, an immediate family member at least 21 years of age, a driver education instructor, or a person at least 25 years with written permission from your parent, guardian, or custodian."
One would think the adult would tell the teen to drop the phone or get out of the seat. But apparently Iowa believes the state can do a better job with a cell phone app than an adult passenger in a car.