Melbourne: Smartphone apps that read out and respond to text messages while people are driving, are a dangerous distraction and should not be used, according to police.
Text Star, available for Australian Android phones in early 2013, automatically replies to all texts and emails with a preset message of people’s choice, whenever it detects that people are travelling faster than 16km/h.
Another free android app DriveSafe.ly, uses text-to-speech technology to automatically read out loud text messages and emails the instant they are received, so that people can keep their hands on the wheel and avoid a heavy fine and demerit points.
Police and road authorities say while such apps help drivers avoid fines for holding or operating a mobile phone, they could still result in fines for driving while distracted, or even cause accidents, the Daily Telegraph reported.
SA Police Traffic Support Branch’s Superintendent Bob Fauser said while usage of these apps did not constitute an offence for full licence holders, they were a dangerous distraction and shouldn’t be used.
He said that inattention and distraction caused about a third of South Australia’s fatal road crashes and a little less than half of all serious injury crashes.
The new technology will only add to the distractions, he warned.
Research into driver distraction has shown that using a mobile phone while driving, even in hands-free mode, could increase the chance of an accident by as much as four times.
Fauser reminded parents, who consider the apps as a safety measure for teenage children, that learner’s permit and P1 provisional licence holders were banned from using any mobile phone function, including hands-free.
He said that for learner’s permit and P1 provisional licence holders, the use of these apps will still amount to an offence.