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AT&T's new app disables texting while driving

Picture 7807Ryan Hayslip / ATT

There are several new mobile apps to help discourage texting while driving, and AT&T has joined the effort with its own free app, released Tuesday, called DriveMode.

DriveMode helps "curb the urge to text and drive" AT&T says, by automatically sending a reply to incoming texts messages, letting the sender know that you are driving and can't respond. The customizable response is similar to an "out-of-office" email.

DriveMode also lets you set up auto-replies to emails and phone calls as well. You can also tweak the app to have some features running while the app is on: There's an “Allow List” that lets users choose up to five contact phone numbers to reach help or family members. And 911 itself is an "automatically approved number" and can be easily dialed from the home screen, AT&T says.

The app is first being made available to BlackBerry users at AT&T's AppCenter and BlackBerry App World. Versions of it for AT&T phones with other operating systems are coming soon, the carrier says.

It was AT&T employee Shavonne Jones who inspired DriveMode; she lost a good friend of 32 years who was killed by a driver who was texting at the time. You can hear her talk about it 3 minutes into this video by AT&T.

If you need any proof that driving and texting don't go together, watch AT&T's 10-minute documentary, "The Last Text."

And below is a recent report from NBC's Kerry Sanders about PhoneGuard, a similar app to DriveMode, also for free, and available for both Android and BlackBerrys.

The app is free because it is subsidized, in large part, by the Remember Alex Brown Foundation. The foundation, sadly, was created by parents whose daughter was killed when she was texting while driving.

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