Text Zapper is a new device that limits students’ ability to text while driving

By By Thomas Geenen, Staff Writer

The open road requires a driver’s total attention, but the subtle beep of a text message notification tends to be distracting. Although the temptation of responding to a pending text is hard to resist, teens can now focus on the road knowing that texting back is not even an option.

In light of the recent texting-while-driving laws, a new product called the TextZapper, has emerged that prevents teens from texting in a moving vehicle.

TMG systems, a company based in NJ, took it upon themselves to create the TextZapper, a phone application that disables a phone’s ability to text, e-mail and browse the web once the vehicle is moving faster than 10 miles per hour.

Fliers for the TextZapper have seemed to pop up in mailboxes throughout the CHS community. The flier includes statistics that show teen deaths related to car crashes and how texting affects judgment behind the wheel.

“I do not feel distracted by my phone, although I occasionally use it at red lights,” junior Jacob Suissa said. “If I am not finished with my text by the time the light turns green, I am an experienced enough driver to continue to drive while texting.”

In reality, not all teens are rational enough to obey the new laws in place that prohibit the use of a handheld device.

“Unfortunately, I do think [my son] will text while driving,” CHS parent Kristen Moshyedi said. “Although, I would hope he be smart and keep the phone in his pocket.”

According to Senate Bill 98, Maryland forbids all drivers to text message while driving. If caught, fines could add up to $100.

TextZapper is not the only text blocker on the market, but it does have defining characteristics that sets it apart.

“There are a couple other applications that will block texting while driving,” TextZapper president Larry Wenger said. “TextZapper is unique in the fact that it is parental controlled and works on over 70 types of smart phones.”

Not all students have iPhones or Blackberrys that are compatible with this application. TextZapper does not work on non-smart phones.

“Applications that block texting while driving need GPS to monitor motion,” Wenger said. “Thus, [the TextZapper] needs the smart phone technology.”

For those students who already own such phones, TextZapper offers several flexible plans such as a $5 monthly plan for one device or even a $50 annual plan.

“I would absolutely buy the plan for a year if it is $50 for a family plan,” said Moshyedi, whose son owns an iPhone. “I definitely think it is worth trying.”

Having only been available for about three months, the relatively new application will take some time to gain popularity among parents that are concerned about their children’s safety.

Some teenagers find this new technology to be a hindrance and hope that its popularity does not grow.

“I would not want my parents to get it because if I am in a situation in which I cannot pull over, I would like to be able to contact somebody,” Suissa said.