- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - Having trouble leaving the cell phone alone while you’re driving, even though the distraction could get you and bystanders killed? Now, there’s an app for that _ with cash rewards for resisting the pull of the phone.

There’s a wild flora of applications intended to combat distracted driving. The apps take differing approaches, as the industry tries to figure out how to curb behavior that by some estimates causes thousands of deaths every year. Safecellapp’s innovation is that it pays its users, on the theory that money talks where the prospect of sudden death does not.

The application was released three weeks ago for Apple Inc.’s iPhones, and then for phones using Google Inc.’s Android system. It costs $11.99 and is designed to detect when the phone is moving faster than 5 miles per hour. When it does, it figures out where the phone is and looks up its database of local safe driving laws. If the user abides by those laws, such as by not talking on the phone without a hands-free device, the app issues points worth $1 for every 100 miles travelled.

Conversely, users lose points for infractions, such as sending a text message when that’s prohibited.

The points can be redeemed at such retailers Barnes & Noble and Apple, says W2W LLC, the Houston-based company behind the app.

W2W says the app can be a good tool for teenage drivers and for companies that want to keep their employees safe while driving on business. Users need to fire up the iPhone app manually before driving, or they won’t earn any points. The Android app can run all the time “in the background,” but may drain the battery.

Like most other safe-driving apps, Safecellapp can’t tell if the phone’s owner is a passenger or a driver. That means a passenger could rack up points by using the app, but will be docked points if he or she answers the phone.

For those who buy the app after Dec. 28, there’s an additional $11.99 per year fee.

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