Sprint EVO 3DWith Old Man LaHood making distracted driving a pet cause, both device manufacturers and wireless carriers are trying to devise new ways to reduce distracted driving before the Department of Transportation mandates its own solution.

To that end, Sprint has announced a new Android app at the CTIA show that limits the functionality of your smartphone while you're on the go.

DriveFirst – created by Location Labs – will be an optional app available on Sprint's ever-expanding line of Google-powered devices that locks the phone's screen while the vehicle is in motion, redirects calls directly to voicemail, blocks text message alerts and sends a preprogrammed auto-response that states the driver is unavailable. Thankfully, DriveFirst will allow drivers to select three apps (i.e. navigation) and three contacts they can access while on the road.

Naturally, the service is more geared towards parents and it's just in time for National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Sprint says the app will be available in the third quarter of this year and commands a $2-per-month premium over your standard wireless service. Full details in the press release after the jump.
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Sprint Introduces New Mobile Solution to Combat Distracted Driving

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), March 22, 2011 - In the lead-up to National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Sprint (NYSE:S) CEO Dan Hesse today announced to attendees at the International CTIA WIRELESS 2011 Show that Sprint later this year will offer Sprint® Drive FirstTM – the wireless carrier's first safe-driving solution to help wireless consumers safely manage their mobile devices and focus on driving while they're behind the wheel.

"As a parent, I am proud that Sprint is offering distracted driving solutions like Sprint Drive First, which effectively helps wireless customers manage their usage, stay safe behind the wheel and focus their attention on driving," Hesse said. "As mobile data usage continues to grow in popularity, Sprint wants to ensure its wireless consumers engage in safe behavior for themselves and others."

Sprint plans to make Drive First available in the third quarter of 2011 on AndroidTM mobile phones for Sprint customers and will require a $2-per-month charge (excluding surcharges and taxes) for each device that utilizes its features.

Created by Location Labs, Sprint Drive First is designed to do the following when driving is detected:
  • Lock the driver's cell phone screen and redirect calls to voice mail.
  • Block text-message alerts and auto-respond to the message sender that the driver is currently unavailable.
  • Allow access to three key contacts and three mobile applications, such as GPS navigation.
  • Give parents and business administrators Web portal access to configure Drive First for their teens' or employees' mobile devices.

"Location Labs continues to develop best-of-breed personal and family safety services that unlock the power of smart devices for users of all ages," said Location Labs CEO Tasso Roumeliotis. "We are thrilled to partner with Sprint, which is once again showing a real commitment to family and personal safety by offering DriveFirst to Sprint customers."

Attendees at the International CTIA WIRELESS 2011 Show can demo Sprint Drive First and other distracted driving solutions at the "Sprint Innovation Station" in the exhibitor hall.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and along with Sprint Drive First, Sprint will introduce a new interactive distracted-driving pledge that Sprint customers will be able to access online.

Since 2005, Sprint has advocated on behalf of its customers and employees on the dangers of distracted driving and worked with schools, nonprofit organizations and product developers to combat texting while driving. Sprint also has been an advocate for its employee pledge to not text and drive.

Sprint recently participated in an episode of ABC's Extreme Makeover:Home Edition (Sundays, 8 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. CT) that focused on distracted driving – donating more than $100,000 in mobile devices, wireless service and a monetary contribution to the Brown family of Wellman, Texas, in connection with the Remember Alex Brown Foundation.

More information on Sprint's distracted driving efforts can be found at sprint.com/focusondriving. At this site visitors can access a database of useful distracted-driving mobile applications, and find other helpful resources on responsible driving behavior.