Deadly Combination: Texting and Driving

Tracy O'Carroll says her daughter, Sarah, was reading a text message while driving. What happened next is hard to look at.

"She died instantly. She swerved on the other side of the curve. The truck driver did everything he could to keep from hittin' her."

Texting while driving is frighteningly common among younger drivers, according to a Consumer Reports National Research Center survey.

Rik Paul with Consumer Reports says, "In our survey, nearly one in three drivers under 30 admitted that they'd recently been texting behind the wheel."

Consumer Reports checked out several new phone apps designed to limit texting and other distractions in the car. Some, like Drive Safe-dot-L-Y Pro, read text messages to you.

"Hi, want to meet for lunch?"

You can answer out loud...

"Sure what time?"

And it sends your message back as a text. That keeps your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. But it isn't perfect.

Rik says, "We found that it doesn't always recognize what you're saying the first time, and repeating your commands can be annoying."

Another app called tXtBlocker goes even further. Parents can install it on a teen's phone for $7 a month. When the phone is in a moving car, tXtBlocker blocks any incoming messages and disables the keypad.

Rik adds, "For a concerned parent, tXtBlocker is the most effective system we've tried. But for all drivers, the best and least expensive way to stay safe is to simply turn off your phone behind the wheel."

That's a message Tracy O'Carroll hopes will save young lives.

Consumer Reports says before buying any app or hands-free system, check the product's website to be sure all of the features are compatible with your smart phone. And if you have T-Mobile, the carrier has announced its own service that blocks texting while driving. It costs about $5 a month. Colorado and 30 other states ban texting while driving.

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