Everyone knows that texting and driving don’t mix. But sometimes it’s just so difficult to ignore the pings. To help fight the urge to check your phone while moving, a team of UT Arlington engineering students created an award-winning app that discourages drivers from reading text messages while driving faster than 15 mph.
The six-person team’s design won first place and $10,000 at the second annual AT&T Coding Contest. They beat out 24 other teams in the 12-week contest, which was part of AT&T’s “It Can Wait” national campaign that seeks to curb the dangerous habit of texting while driving.
“It was great to work on a project that is s o current,” said team leader James Fielder. “We feel the app can make a difference in peoples’ lives.”
The app is designed to block phones from alerting the driver to any incoming text messages when moving faster than 15 mph. It also allows the phone to send pre-written messages to approved senders that the receiver is driving and will return the message later.
Senior James Fielder, the team leader, said the app’s immediate application made it worthwhile to work on.
“A lot of people, especially young people, text and drive every day. Some cities have even passed laws against it,” Fielder said in a statement. “It was great to work on a project that is so current. We feel the app can make a difference in peoples’ lives.”
The app also creates a reward system to further encourage drivers from keeping their phones out of their hands. Points would be rewarded on a per-text basis and could be redeemed for discounts at stores or restaurants that take part in anti-texting campaigns.
None of the team members had ever taken a smart phone programming class before, according to team adviser David Levine.
“It’s important to know that the AT&T contest was an engineering contest, not just a programming contest. They had to document, design and build the app, not just program it,” he said.
Other team members — all undergrads — were Keyurkumar Patel, Andrew Toscano, Kevin Chung, Zaid Abdulla and Sidharth Goyal.
The University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, Georgia State University, Faulkner University and University of California-Los Angeles took second through fifth place in the contest.