A flood of new legislation prohibiting drivers from texting while behind the wheel has not prevented nearly half of sixteen and seventeen year-olds from doing it anyway. Given that the American Auto Club has determined that the risk of being in a car accident goes up fifty percent when the driver is thumbing in an SMS, the road is looking scarier than ever. According to MomLogic.com, only six states have complete bans on driving while talking or texting on a mobile handset, and eighteen have a texting ban. Hoping to combat the danger of stubborn drivers who cannot give up, put off or make a passenger do their texting,text-to-speech Web service iSpeech.org has introduced a mobile application called DriveSafe.ly. The app is fresh out of beta for the Blackberry and cell phones running Google's Android operating system, coming soon for the iPhone and Windows Mobile OS. After activation, DriveSafe.ly reads sender, subject and body of SMS and e-mail messages upon each delivery. The automatic reading is the key to safety - no furtive looks to the handset's screen are necessary to access new texts.
The base service is free, provides a pleasant female voice that reads the first 25 words of messages, and can automatically reply with a custom text or e-mail message. The fully-featured service costs either $3.95 per month or a flat fee of $13.95, reads up to 500 words per message, and comes with both a female and a male voice. An option is available that automatically selects the voice that corresponds with the sender contact's gender.
From a safety standpoint, this app works very well. All interaction takes place on an aural level, with no visual necessity, and therefore is very effective. Security and privacy are not part of the programming, however. But the program is simple to toggle on and off, so if you have a known "sexting" practitioner in your social circle, best to let the phone stay quiet and practice a little low-tech restraint.