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App keeps driver’s hands on the wheel, not their phone

Study: Too many drivers are distracted

SEATTLE — In 2008, Erik Wood had a close call with a distracted driver. She never glanced up from her cell phone as she blew past Wood and his 3-year-old daughter on a Seattle sidewalk. That near-miss inspired Wood to come up with an idea to keep drivers’ eyes on the road and OTTER was born.

OTTER is a smartphone app Wood developed with his partners at a small company based on Bainbridge Island, according to the Kitsap Sun. OTTER, which stands for One Touch Text Response, includes a speed-activated, auto-response system for text messages. The app uses a phone’s GPS to determine whether the user is in a moving vehicle. It can then turn off alerts and buzzers, silence incoming phone calls unless a headset is enabled, and send a customizable automatic reply to incoming texts.

The software is available for download on Android, Blackberry and Nokia devices, but not on Apple’s iPhone. OTTER launched an online petition this month asking Apple to change that. As of Sunday, the petition on Change.org had more than 700 signatures.

Read more about OTTER from the Kitsap Sun here.

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