App helps pre­vent us­ing cell phone while driv­ing

Austin American-Statesman - - STATESMANCARS - By Tom and Ray Magliozzi

Tom: A few weeks ago, we an­swered a ques­tion from Blair, the mother of a 16year-old girl, who wanted to find a de­vice that would help her keep track of her “spir­ited” daugh­ter’s driv­ing.

Ray: We sug­gested a con­vent.

Tom: We ac­tu­ally sug­gested one of the GPS-based black boxes that can track a driver’s speed and ag­gres­sive­ness and re­port vi­o­la­tions to a par­ent in­stantly by e-mail or text mes­sage.

Ray: These de­vices are called Event Data Recorders, and there are a num­ber on the mar­ket.

Tom: But driv­ing fast isn’t the only dan­ger to new driv­ers. Cell phones pro­vide a whole smor­gas­bord of ways to crash a car. There’s the dis­trac­tion of con­ver­sa­tions and, even worse, the send­ing and read­ing of text mes­sages.

Ray: Well, now there are cell phone ap­pli­ca­tions that you can in­stall on your kid’s phone to cut down on these dis­trac­tions.

Tom: They all use the

Con­tin­ued from D phone’s GPS to de­ter­mine when the phone is mov­ing faster than walk­ing speed. Once the ap­pli­ca­tion senses you’re mov­ing at ve­hi­cle speed, it shuts down some or all as­pects of the phone. One app might turn the whole phone into a brick. An­other app blocks tex­ting. One is highly cus­tom­iz­a­ble.

In all cases, once the car is stopped for a cer­tain amount of time, the phone is re­leased again to fully func­tion for the user.

A few of these apps have over­ride sys­tems so that, pre­sum­ably, a pas­sen­ger can pro­gram in some num­bers and then text and chat while the driver pays full at­ten­tion to the road. Of course, teenagers will fig­ure out how to scam that one in no time.

They all al­low you to dial 911 any­time and al­low cer­tain “emer­gency num­bers,” like par­ents’ num­bers, to get through un­der all con­di­tions.

They’re not per­fect, but they’re worth a look. Their names are iZup, Cel­lSafety, ZoomSafer and TXTBlocker.

My wife and I live in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and have some in­ter­est­ing neigh­bors. One cou­ple in par­tic­u­lar is very proud of the Porsche 911 Car­rera they’re leas­ing. The car prob­a­bly is a 2007. When­ever they start up this car, or be­fore they turn it off, they make sure that they rev the en­gine loudly, in case we all for­got that they have a Porsche. My ques­tion is: Can revving the en­gine while the car is not mov­ing dam­age any­thing?

Well, clearly it can dam­age re­la­tions be­tween neigh­bors, Chris.

The an­swer is that dam­age can oc­cur from revving, but it has noth­ing to do with whether the car is mov­ing — it de­pends on whether the car is warmed up yet. So, in the case of your neigh­bors, they may be do­ing dam­age by revving it first thing in the morn­ing, but not at night, af­ter they’ve just driven the car home.

When you first start a cold en­gine, es­pe­cially if the out­side tem­per­a­ture is low, it takes the oil a few sec­onds to build up pres­sure and fully cir­cu­late. That means for those first few sec­onds, cru­cial parts of your en­gine are not fully pro­tected.

That’s why with mod­ern, fuel-in­jected cars, you’re not sup­posed to step on the gas at all when you start the en­gine. You just turn the key and the en­gine starts and au­to­mat­i­cally idles at a nice, low RPM.

If you stab the gas pedal the moment you start the car and go VR­RROOOM, VRRROOOOOOM right away, you will put ex­tra wear and tear on things like the rings, the cylin­der walls, the valves, the crankshaft, the bear­ings and other parts that ab­so­lutely re­quire proper lu­bri­ca­tion. And those parts are ex­pen­sive to re­place.

Of course, your neigh­bors are just leas­ing this thing, so what do they care if it burns oil at 80,000 miles?

On the other hand, all they’re re­ally do­ing is en­joy­ing their car. I mean, the en­gine of a Porsche does sound won­der­ful. In fact, I may buy one just so I can rev it up and lis­ten to the en­gine.

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