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Corunna couple devise app to stop texting and driving (Editor's Note: This app is no longer available)

Tara Jeffrey A Corunna couple hopes to save lives with a new app designed to stop people from texting and driving.
A near miss on the highway inspired John and Cindy Brough to come up with a phone app to prevent distracted driving. Tara Jeffrey

Tara Jeffrey

A Corunna couple hopes to save lives with a new app designed to stop people from texting and driving.

“We travel a lot, and in the past three or four years we’ve really noticed how unsafe our roads are,” said Cindy Brough, co-creator of the Lock & Drive app, along with husband John.

In a recent incident on the highway the couple barely escaped a head-on collision with a truck driver who appeared to be using his phone.

“My first reaction was to yell, ‘I wish we could lock these damn phones!’” said Brough. “And my husband said, ‘That’s it. Why hasn’t anyone come up with a way to completely lock the phones while we’re driving?’”

So, the owners of OWS Rail Car in Sarnia began brainstorming a plan to create a cell phone app that locks devices and prevents distractions on the road.

Last November, they took the idea to Anthony Quinn, a family friend and Lambton County native now living in the U.S., who helped present the concept to developer Aaron Friedman, and another developer in the UK, Brough said.

Their focus quickly turned to young drivers, who, statistics show, are texting, driving and subsequently dying at an alarming rate.

“So, for the last six or seven months, we’ve been working back and forth with all the developers,” she added. “And now we’re here. We did it.”

The Lock and Drive app for Android phones officially went live on Google Play in July.

Families are encouraged to download the app, which, for $3.99, includes four people on one account. Parents can then set up an account on each child’s phone, installing the app and applying certain restrictions -- including a call filter, location track and speed notifications.

“You control their phone from your computer, so there’s no more texting and driving, no Facebook, you can track them through GPS and monitor their speeding,” Brough said. “We’ve made it more of a family protection.

The app operates to allow 9-1-1 to remain accessible at all times.

Adults are also encouraged to use the app, which automatically sends a reply to incoming calls and texts.

“So they know they’re not being ignored by you; they’re actually getting a notification that you are driving and can’t text or take any calls.”

Developers are currently working on an app for iPhone users as well.

The goal is to branch out to insurance companies, trucking companies, and the Ministry of Transportation, Brough said.

“They say that noise you hear when your phone goes off -- it’s like being in a casino, with all the bells and whistles. There’s an actual brain reaction to grab that phone,” said Brough. “The statistics are phenomenal, and it’s senseless.

“We just want to save lives.”

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