Texting while driving

Dr. Justin Regner, trauma medical director at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple, tries his hand at driving a simulator while texting.

Janice Gibbs | FME News Service

TEMPLE — Those who participated in the distracted driving scenario at Baylor Scott & White in Temple using a simulator were all equally bad. Before they crashed into a bus, car, tree or sign, they all did some off-road traveling, unintentionally.

Maneuvering the simulator was difficult on its own and these drivers were asked to text on their phone at the same time.

Marci Corry, of College Station, unveiled an app Dec. 12 she designed — SAFE 2 SAVE — that would discourage texting while driving and rewards those drivers who keep their hands off the cellphone while driving.

The app was launched in College Station last year and is now in the Killeen and Temple area.

Keeping the community safe is the purpose of SAFE 2 SAVE, Corry said.

The app is free to download and people get points at participating businesses for not touching their phone while moving 10 mph or more. The giveaways vary depending on points earned.

In College Station and Bryan, there are many participating businesses. In the Temple, Belton and Killeen area, the participants are fewer, but are expected to increase with time.

“Once you sign up for the app, when you pull it up the first page is going to be a picture of your family,” she said. “The reason we did that was so people will see their own family with the words ‘Is it really worth it?’”

One quick text saying “I’m on my way,” is not worth it.

“We have a choice to make each day, to put our phone aside while we’re in the car and not touch it,” Corry said.

The goal is to reach teens and college students, but also adults with children.

The program is moving west to Odessa and Midland and to the east to Cypress and The Woodlands.

Corry came up with the app idea after a 19-year-old in the College Station died as a result of someone texting and driving.

“I thought someone has to do something,” she said.

Corry said she discovered she was part of the problem, believing she was the exception to no one texting and driving.

“I thought if we could sent a reminder to people about their families, behaviors might change,” Corry said. “Adding rewards from popular businesses is a bonus.”

When considering certain medical conditions risk factors are looked at, said Dr. Justin Regner, trauma medical director at Scott & White Medical Center-Temple. With heart disease you look at blood pressure, diabetes and tobacco use.

The risk factors of a trauma, particularly an event that took place on a highway, are distracted driving, which is number one in the daytime. Alcohol is more of a factor at night.

“This is the holiday season and our minds are more stressed,” Regner said. “We’re worried about gifts we have to get and upcoming parties we’re supposed to attend.”

SAFE 2 SAVE has the potential of eliminating one of the trauma risk factors, he said.

Much has been written about distracted driving and studies show people who use hands-free communication don’t fare much better than those who are holding their device while they talk, Regner said.

“If you’re talking on the phone, your mind isn’t paying attention to the road,” he said.

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving, according the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

Those who pull up the app and put in the promo code BSWH will get 500 free points.

“We’ll have competitions with high schools on which school has the most SAFE 2 SAVE points,” she said.

The development of the program was outsourced to an A&M student, but as the program grows more sophisticated technology will be required.

Currently, 42,800 users are signed up.

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