BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Texting while driving is claiming more lives. One study says 5,000 people are killed every year.

Adam May reports that  a Maryland entrepreneur has invented new technology that could save lives.

The recent death of Alisa Bennet, who crashed in a tree in Pasadena while texting and driving, hits home for Maryland teenager Jake Soffer, who used to text behind the wheel.

“I was pretty close to getting into in an accident,” Soffer said. “Fortunately, I avoided it, a little swerve, and my parents thought I needed help with this.”

Joel Magaziner saw a business opportunity– inventing the text zapper.

“We’ve disabled a smart phone application that disables the ability to text while driving, and it also disables the ability to browse the Internet and email,” said Magaziner, Text Zapper CEO.

The application uses GPS technology to detect the motion of a vehicle.

In case the user is a passenger, parents can override the text zapper from their phone.

“It’s against the law to text while driving in 30 states, but it’s a life saver. Parents think it’s the best thing that’s ever happened. But on the other side of the coin, kids have a different reaction to it,” Magaziner said.

For Soffer, the text zapper changed his driving habits.

“Pretty smooth, no problems at all,” Soffer said. “Never gets in my way, only when it’s doing its job.”

The application costs $5 a month. It works on all smart phones except the iPhone, but that could change in the near future.

Comments (27)
  1. Karen says:

    Just turn OFF the Phone while driving. Can’t get an Easier than that! Why would you need an App?

    1. KottaMan says:

      Really….. someone is always inventing useless things such as this. Just hang up and drive.

      1. My opinion says:

        It isn’t useless if you have someone who thinks that they will never have an accident while texting and driving. You know the type; “That will NEVER happen to me!” Unfortunately, not only could it happen to them, but it may not be an inanimate object that they hit.

    2. paul says:

      thats just crazy be responsibe dont text while driving same as dont drink and drive whats next an app for your radio turns off while driving do your part be smart…………..dont text while driving teach your kids right from the beginning you will have no problems…dont wait till its to late start teaching safty now

  2. I says:

    Freedom is not devoid of responsibility. We live in a society, with individuals so bereft of any sense of responsibility that it has become necessary to pass legislation and develop technology to penalize and prevent people for/from being reckless.

  3. East Coast says:

    What amazes me is that people still think it’s OK to text while driving. Would you sit a laptop in front of you and read your email while driving? How stupid does one person have to be to text while driving? I mean c’mon, anyone who texts and gets in an accident should have their license taken away. Oh and yes I feel the same way about drinking, eating and everything else that takes away your attention. Driving is a responsibility. There is nothing more important than your life and most certainly not the lives of others.

  4. Jim says:

    East Coast,

    I agree with everything you say. However, many, many drivers feel it is their right to drive over the speed limit and suffer few consequences if any. The state is considering adding a penallty on to registration fees for points on driving records and you would think these drivers were giving up the right to drive. Once again don’t break the law and you will not suffer any consequences. Some drivers just think laws were made to be broken.

  5. Amy says:

    Karen, it is designed for parents to use for their teenagers to help keep them safe until they are mature enough to stop thinking they are invincible and make wiser decisions… you are missing the point.

    1. joe the sheriff says:

      You are a complete fool Amy. Protecting what child??? Parents everyday let their children go see X rated movies, hand over the car to idiot kids who will be drinking & driving, let them use the internet to trash their neighbors & watch porn & you say they want to protect them so they can as adults be sensible????…Hellooooo!

    2. Meredith says:

      Amy, I couldn’t agree more! No matter how many times you talk to your kids about safety, they tend to think they know better. Admittedly, there are a few young people who do respect the road and their driving habits, but does this make up for the ones who do not take safety seriously and cause harm to others because of it? I think most of the resistance from this invention is from kids who don’t want their parents to have control over them….but it’s our job as parents to do what’s best for them no matter what. We are not here to be their best friends all the time. Sometimes we have to be parents first and friends with them second. It’s because we love them…not because we want to control their lives.

  6. KottaMan says:

    Yes, only idiots text while driving. I am curious, however, as to who did the supposed study concluding that 5,000 people are killed every year by texting? Sounds like puffery to me as that amounts to about 8 percent of total U.S. fatalities annually. In most states, that purported 8 percent would be half of the total percentage number killed by drunk drivers annually. Sorry, no cigar in my opinion on this “study.” Having policed for years, it is always interesting to me to see laws passed without any actual or accurate facts or statistics to back up the law. Politcos always want to be able to say< I'm doing something."

  7. barnyard says:

    Just turn off the phone while driving is about as effective as “Just say no to drugs”.
    Knuckleheads out there still drink & drive no matter the law. People are willing to take that chance on being killed regardless of law. I say Hooray for anything that initiates common sense & saving others lives including mine when on the highway sharing it with theses morons. The comments of Kottaman above remind me of a real juvenile. I wonder was he born that stupid or did he really have to work at it?

  8. Nicole says:

    I believe this is wrong on many levels, they say you can use your speaker phone but, to put your phone on speaker it’s not hands-free…. What if your family needs you for a family emergency or a death in the family. How will you know if you can’t look at your phone or talk on the phone, i believe it’s wrong why should the people who actually pay attention to what they’re doing have to suffer for people who didn’t think when they acted, i feel terrible for the families who lost loved ones, but this is preventing some families to not know right away if they’ve lost a loved one, thats not fair to me.

    1. My Opinion says:

      Nicole, we have survived for centuries without the convience of cell phone technology. Just 30 years ago you would not have been able to know right away if there was an emergency. Frankly, if someone were to find out that they had lost a loved one, I would prefer it not be while they were driving. Don’t you think it would be better to be on the shoulder of the road or in a parking lot when you recieve such news?

    2. Sarah says:

      That’s why they said to get a bluetooth headset. They can be set to auto-answer, or if not it’s usually just tapping one button on your ear, no more dangerous than scratching your head.

      Putting it on speaker, people usually still hold the phone so it’s really not an advantage over just holding the phone to your ear

  9. Mike says:

    “In case the user is a passenger, parents can override the text zapper from their phone.” Alright so who is to say the child gets a hold of your parents phone, turns it off, then texts while driving? Fool Proof?

  10. joe the sheriff says:

    Mike, Stop pulling your pudding so much.

  11. Drunk Drivers Against Mothers says:

    Ib jus glad they r leavink us dunk dribers alon for a change thunka yu.

  12. Trish says:

    I don’t understand why people are saying this is stupid! Just because I raise my kid “right” doesn’t mean when they leave the house they well use the knowledge I tought them. They have the attitude “that will never happen to me”. Just like with sex, you teach them to use protection and have you looked at the teen pregnancy rate for the US? Teens will text no matter what, because god forbid Suzie talks about Jessica and Jessica’s friend not text her right away to tell her! DRAMA! That is what is important to teenagers in todays world! HELLO!!! Welcome to 2011!!! If you don’t think this is a good idea then your the idiot and obviously in denail about the way the teenage mind works!

  13. D.D.A.M. says:

    I cant fine my keys. . .I jus had em a whil ago

    1. willie man hanging says:

      D.D.A.M. What a J.O. you are funny little man with the emphasis on little from what the girls tell me.

  14. Larry says:

    In a perfect world, we can simply tell our kids , “don’t text and drive” and they will listen. Some will, the majority will not. Laws making texting while driving illegal has not curbed the behavior, actually accidents due to texting are on the rise even with the laws, and even with parents talking with their kids. TextZapper is a real solution that will eliminate the ability to text, email, and browse the web. This is not solely a teenager problem. There are just as many grown ups texting whle driving as there are kids. For $4.99 a month, a parent can rest easier knowing texting while driving will not be an issue with TextZapper installed on the phone. Check it out at

  15. D.D.A.M. says:

    thunk yu larby. soo can i get a ride home. ilosh my keys

  16. D.D.A.M. says:

    hEY wher did eby body go???

  17. lclo123 says:

    . this is a great idea, im a teen and as much i say i want to stop texting i cant. i tell my parents i dont, but it’s just too hard to resist. that kid is reeeally cute!

  18. Erik Wood says:

    I think real change on this issue is going to come from the end user – the delivery man, the car pooling mom, or the teen driver deciding to change their habits. From truckers to moms to teens that I spoke with on the issue of text and drive – there was one common thread. If presented with a Big Brother type lock down alternative, they will immediately seek “to get around it”. This does not constitute change on our highways. Selling expensive software that is supposed to lock down the activity forgets that it is the end user (the driver) who will ultimately decide. Let’s change behavior and we will see those violent crash rates plummet…now.

    I decided to do something about distracted driving after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool called OTTER that is a simple GPS based, texting auto reply app for smartphones. OTTER also silences those distracting call ringtones unless a bluetooth is enabled. OTTER is 4.99 with no recurring fees which demonstrates how accessible this technology is right now. I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.

    Erik Wood, owner
    OTTER app

  19. Truth says:

    While it is very unfortunate that parents would have to resort to an app to prevent their kids from texting and driving, and that kids would feel they can’t stop without help…I say, by any means necessary. Kudos to the inventors and creators that are doing something productive with their talents instead of making stupid games.

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