JC students get funding for app that disables texting while driving

By Kelly McCarthy

June 13, 2014 Updated Jun 13, 2014 at 6:00 PM EST

Johnson City, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Imagine having the power to turn off texting and social media on someone else's smart phone if that person is driving. That idea won a group of Johnson City High School students second place at the Greater Binghamton Scholastic Challenge.

It started as a class project to enter in this year's Greater Binghamton Scholastic Challenge.

"I think all teenagers can admit they have texted and drove once or twice in their lives," said senior Gabrielle Ruspantini, "So it would definitely put the parents' minds more at ease."

The app targets parents and business owners. They would enter a phone number and a time of day when the user is typically driving.

"And you put in a time slot and as soon as you go over 10 miles per hour it automatically turns on," said junior Stella Safari.

Once the app is "on," it disables texts, calls and social media apps for as long as the phone is in a moving car.

"All of the students hated it; they thought it was the worst idea ever because they're guilty of it too," Ruspantini said, "But all of the adults that we talked to thought it was a great idea."

The idea seemed more like a reality to one of the Scholastic Challenge judges. The president of Dynamic Innovation Group is stepping up to fund and develop the "Drive Right" project and turn it into a business.

"This is something that can save lives," said Stephen Donnelly. "We want to get it in the hands of parents, I think every parent probably stays up at night and during the day worrying about their kids."

Donnelly said it will take about six months and up to $100,000 to create the app.

However, students admit not everyone likes the idea of giving up partial control of their phone.

"We're not trying to take anyone away from their phone, but we just really want to focus on the safety aspect so maybe they can be on board with that," said senior Lucille Dellos.

The students won second place at the Greater Binghamton Scholastic Challenge on May 28.

Donnelly said they will all be involved in The Drive Right app creation.

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