Ariella, I love this idea -- and think it could prove highly valuable especially but not exclusively for teens. I'd love to have an automated "I'm driving" message go out when I receive texts on my smartphone while driving! I'll also suggest that texting isn't the only culprit. Many drivers, teens and otherwise, use their smartphones for music in the car. Fiddling with shuffle lists and skipping songs could be just as problematic as texting.
@kicheko Such devices do exist. While those who have been convicted of DWI sometimes must have one built into their cars to prevent it from starting if they don't pass, people can test for themselves, too. A variety of models are offered for sale here.
@Jeff @Beth I recall reading an article on the apps to prevent texting while driving
There are several apps that will cut off the keyboard when the GPS shows the phone moving over a certain speed. However, this requires parents to know about, download and install, and manage these applications – usually for their children who are smarter and more adept at turning these features off than they are.
It also mentions that the laws against it are not at all consistent across the nation:
there are only 10 states with laws on the books that prohibit all cell phone usage while driving, but there are 11 states with no restrictions on distracted driving. The Governors Highway Safety Association is a great state-by-state resource on the current laws for cell phone usage, texting and even usage laws for school bus drivers (yes, in some states it is legal for school bus drivers to text). Additionally, it provides links of programs to address "distracted driving" laws in each state, including resources for you to support these initiatives.
As the writer took the problem to be greatest among teens, the solution the article proposed was as follows:
a built-in, parental-locked, no-texting feature on the phone. Upon setup, parents lock the phone when it is traveling over a certain speed – the phone can even put an "I'm driving" auto-reply to all texts coming in. For our teens, who is typically paying for the phone? Parents. Parents would flock to purchase a safe phone for their kids – even paying extra for these features.
@Jeff, on Friday I took a 2-1/2 hour road trip from Chicago to Champaign, IL. There aren't many electronic road signs once you cross out of the city limits, but all that I did see included a "Don't text and drive" message, then cited Illinois traffic death stat related to texting while driving. So, I can see transportation agencies putting this data to use for public awareness.