Calling it the insurance industry's first free mobile phone tool to prevent distracted driving accidents, State Farm Insurance Co. introduced what it calls its "On the Move" widget, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Specifically, the application allows Android smartphone users to automatically reply to text messages by sending a reply that they're busy driving. The motivation for an insurance company would be to reduce the number of accidents and ultimately lower the cost of claims.
Although Chicago DUI lawyers don't typically handle cases related to distracted driving, which are treated as traffic infractions, proponents of tougher distracting driving laws state that texting while driving (for example) is often just as dangerous as drunk driving.
The "On the Move" tool is free of charge and bundled with State Farm's Pocket Agent for Android application, available to policy holders. The app also allows drivers to take notes and file claims following automobile accidents.
While the service responds to text messages automatically when activated by users, drivers still have the ability to access and read messages. It's not clear, however, whether the service blocks drivers from sending outgoing messages when it's activated.
State Farm did not provide many details and the widget is not yet mentioned on its Web site, but industry journal Insurance & Technology quoted Laurette Stiles, State Farm's vice president of strategic resources:
"This new service will help drivers manage the temptation to read or respond to text messages when they are behind the wheel."
Outside of the care, the service also can be used to tell your friends when you're busy or otherwise unable to reply. The company said it's also working on versions for BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and iPhone.
If you're curious about the similarities and differences between drunk driving and distracted driving, a Chicago DUI lawyer may be able to answer your questions.
Distracted Driving (FindLaw)
Call an Illinois DUI Lawyer (FindLaw)
Distracted Driving: More States Strengthen Cell Phone, Texting Laws (FindLaw's Injured Blog)