Team 10 tests smartphone app that catches teens texting while driving

Canary sends alert if phone is used when driving

SAN DIEGO - A new smartphone app is helping catch teens texting while driving and it is catching local attention, especially in light of a car crash in Ramona.

The Canary app for smartphones tattles on teens who text and drive, and many parents and grandparents are singing its praises.

"Yeah, because it's her life. I mean, she could die," said a grandmother in San Diego.

Once the Canary app is installed, when a person texts, talks or surfs the Web on the smartphone while driving more than 12 mph, the app logs the activity and reports it to an accountability partner -- a parent, spouse, friend or boss.

Team 10 tested it out by putting the Canary app on Troubleshooter Cristin Severance's two phones.

Severance started driving above 12 mph and hit send on her work phone like she would be making a call. She pulled the car over and checked her personal phone and an alert was sent, stating, "Cristin was talking and driving more than 13 miles per hour."

Jani Spede, CEO of the Canary Project, said something needs to be done to break the horrible habit of texting and driving.  

"When you pick up a phone, it's like driving with a loaded gun," said Spede.

Spede told Team 10 unlike similar programs, it does not shut down the phone if someone is caught texting and driving. It sends an alert instead.

She said those alerts should be used like a driver's report card.

"Once the teen realizes, the employee realizes what they are doing is dangerous, they can start to change their behavior," said Spede.

One grandmother told Team 10 she is downloading the Canary to keep an eye on her teenage granddaughter.

"Like when I try to get on Facebook with her, she blocks me and unfriends me, so that tells me she doesn't want me to know what she is doing out there," she said

The app is free for seven days, but after that there is a $9.99 charge to keep the program, which enables monitoring of up to 10 smartphones.

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