Jul 30, 2014
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Can't Resist Using Phone While Driving? There's an App for That!

A Petaluma resident has created an app that silences mobile phones and lets callers or text senders know you're driving.

Can't Resist Using Phone While Driving? There's an App for That!

Cell phones are ever-present in our lives, including when we drive.

We email while stopped at a red light and some of us send texts while driving.

Two years ago the danger hit home when a 2-year-old Rohnert Park girl and her mother were struck by a Sonoma State University student who was texting behind the wheel. The toddler, Calli Murray, was killed instantly, while her mother, Ling, underwent numerous surgeries and rehabilitation.

Now one Petaluma resident has come up with an app to help drivers put their phones on pause, while alerting the caller that they are driving and unavailable.

It's called Safe Text Sender and was recently mentioned in the Wall Street Journal as one of several apps “to save your sanity.”

“The whole texting and driving thing is so scary,” says creator Marla Ghiringhelli, who works in promotional merchandising and is the mother of two teenage boys, ages 18 and 15.

“One of my sons is already driving and the other will be soon, and in this day and age electronics don’t leave their hands,” she says. “Not having sound will help them not look at the phone, but their friends will also know they’re not ignoring them.”

Ghiringhelli calls the project a “leap of faith,” which started as an idea that she just couldn’t shake. She found a developer online and took out a no-interest credit card to finance the $16,000 app, which she hopes will at least pay for itself over the next year.

“I felt in my heart that I needed to do that and if I can make a difference in even one person’s life, then it’s worth it,” says Ghiringhelli. 

In addition to driving, Safe Text Sender can also be used while in meetings, working out or any other activity when you don’t want to be disturbed. It's available for Android phones for $0.99 on the Google Play app store. (Sorry, iPhone users, but Apple has restrictions about allowing third-party users from "taking over" the phone.)

Now if there was only an app to get distracted drivers, you know the ones who yap on their cell phones while balancing the steering wheel with one hand, to actually use the technology.

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