App stops drivers from receiving smartphone texts

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @gchittimK5

KING5.com

Posted on September 19, 2012 at 5:58 PM

The man who developed a phone app designed to make driving safer is hoping to team up with the auto industry.

Erik Wood of Bainbridge Island developed the One Touch Text Response, or OTTER app, wants automakers to install equipment that will automatically download the app to drivers' phones.

Wood developed the app, he said, after he and his daughter were almost run over by a texting driver who was traveling through a Seattle alley. Wood said as he snatched his 3-year-old out of the way, he saw that the driver was texting with her thumbs and driving with her palms.

That's when Wood got busy on OTTER. The app allows users to use customized responses or create their own that will answer incoming texts while not bothering drivers.

For example, before hitting the road a driver could create a response like, "Sorry, I'm driving right now, but will get back to you in an hour." The app then blocks distracting tones from the driver's phone and lets texters know their texts were received.

Owners of Android and iPhone devices can download OTTER for free, and Wood is hoping car manufacturers will help him design a plug that would download OTTER onto the phone of any driver who wants it.

Wednesday, by the way, was No Text on Board Pledge Day -- a campaign led by AT&T in partnership with government agencies and community organizations across the country. Experts say 100,000 injuries or deaths occur every year in accidents involving texting drivers.

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