Brown family partners with Bieber to curb texting while driving - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Brown family partners with pop star to curb texting while driving

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We all know the consequences of texting while driving all too well.

The experts say if you're texting and driving, you're six times more likely to cause an accident than someone who's drunk. Now there is an app that aims to curb this issue. It's called PhoneGuard.

"We've all been tempting to text and drive, but at the end of the day it's your decision," the PhoneGuard Commercial says.

On November 10, 2009 Alex Brown of Wellman made the decision to text and drive. She lost control of her truck and was thrown from it, killing her. 34 states have banned texting while driving. Texas is not one of them. However, you cannot text and drive in school zones.

Now, nearly two years after Alex died, the Brown family is on a mission to keep others from sharing their daughters fate.

Johnny Mac, Jeanne Brown and their daughter Katrina travel all over the country telling their story while warning others. Now they've partnered with a famous singer, Justin Bieber, to help save lives with technology.

"When you are going over ten miles per hour in your vehicle it automatically disables your text messaging," said Jeanne Brown.                                          

The developers designed the application after hearing the statistics. In 2009, 5,474, people nationwide were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers.

"You look at the road and you see people almost looking like they are drunk, weaving around," said PhoneGuard CEO Scott Frohman.

Frohman says he saw Extreme Makeover: Home Edition with the Brown Family. That's when he knew he could take their message further while saving lives. The Brown's were ecstatic.

"Technology created the problem and technology can fix the problem," said Jeanne Brown.

The app is pretty simple to use. You download it from your app store on a Blackberry or Android for 99 cents and free on the iPhone. Then you set up a password so you can disable the application, if you're a passenger.

We tested the iPhone app. When we started to drive, the PhoneGuard message did show up. The problem? You can still text. The company say that's because of the iPhone design.  

"As far as locking it down on the iPhone, we are not able to lock it down. It is more of a reminder," said Frohman.

When we took an Android and Blackberry for a spin, the result was different. The phone locked down, unable to text or use other applications. The Brown family hopes this app will break people's texting habit.

"I had a really strong reason to stop texting and driving. A lot of these kids don't, they need some help," said Jeanne Brown.

The app has other features like an auto away message and panic button. We noticed some of those features don't work properly.

"Anytime you roll out software in the future there is always some type of glitches that go along with it," said Frohman.

PhoneGuard says new software updates will fix these issues. So far 20,000 people have downloaded the app. A portion of their proceeds will go to the Remember Alex Brown Foundation. The Brown's hope this simple message will be one of the solutions.

"If you read our emails and saw the stories we get daily from not just in the United States and Canada, but all over the world. It's an epidemic. This is happening and people are dying," said Johnny Mac Brown.

If you would like to know more about the app click here.

Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11

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