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J.C. Students Create App to Stop Texting While Driving

A group of students at Johnson City High School has been working on a high-tech way to stop people from texting while driving.
A group of students at Johnson City High School has been working on a high-tech way to stop people from texting while driving.

It's a deadly problem and they are hoping their solution will lead to a business venture.

We all know that texting and driving is not only dangerous, but can be deadly.

A group of current and now graduated Johnson City High School students got thinking about that last year and decided it was worth trying to do something about.

"We were trying to think of ideas to do and we came up with the Drive Right app, because we know that texting and driving is a big problem these days. There are a lot of crashes. 4,000 people die a year I think from it, so that's why we came up with this app to make everybody safer," said graduate Gabrielle Ruspantini.

The goal is to allow parents and businesses to pay a monthly fee to make sure that their kids and employees don't text while driving.

Their smart phones would be able to sense if they are going more than 10 miles per hour.

If they are, then texting and other options on the phone would be shutdown.

Parents or a company would download the app on their own phone and type in a number, which would create a whole new setting in the kids or employees phones and they couldn't do anything about it.

"It disables texting, calling, social media. If you want you can still listen to music, that will still be available, but everything else will not be," said Ruspantini.

"I just really hope that altogether we create better safety on the roads for teens and businesses in general. That's all we want to do is save lives," said junior Stella Safari .

"We're thinking about making you put a lot of information in there like your phone company would only know, so that way it will direct over to that phone, because if you get the app and type in numbers you could do pranks and we don't want to do that. We want it to be very serious for everybody that needs to use it," said Ruspantini.

The J.C. students recently competed in the Scholastic Challenge, which is sponsored by Modern Marketing Concepts, based in Kirkwood.

The challenge encourages students in area high schools to come up with entrepreneurial ideas and work with mentors to develop them.

The texting app didn't place first, but the group did get $200 and the attention of the President of Dynamic Innovation Group, Stephen Donnelly.

"From my perspective, we're going to be funding the whole product, we're going to be developing the whole product. We really want to turn this into a business. Great ideas are kind of the beginning. I want to take this and some of the business experience and product experience that we have as well as the marketing side and turn it into something that people can utilize and something that will help save lives," Donnelly.

"It's very complicated and costly. We come up with the idea and concept and when we go to Scholastic Challenge, we look for someone who might want to fund an idea. Three years ago, we started a non-profit group that still runs today through the Scholastic Challenge, Athletes to Athletes. This year we've reached the 20-thousand dollars raised mark," said J.C. business teacher Joe Schieve.

"It has been an honor to have this opportunity and have our mentors help us and we really took this further than we ever thought we would and we're just happy that we've gotten this far," said graduate Lucille Dellos.

"It's just a pleasure working with the students here at Johnson City. I'm a graduate of JC, so that's kind of why I had the partnership with them. I wish other community partners in the area would get involved with some of the area schools in regards to helping out next year with the Greater Binghamton Scholastic Challenge," said Martin Chudacik, Pharmaceutical Sales Representative and Scholastic Challenge Mentor.

"This whole program has been a great thing for the community. I think it's a huge need. We have a lot of talent in our local area and to have these kids come out and participate in this challenge is exciting. It's good to see some revitalization happening in our area and I think a lot of it starts with the people who are here," said Donnelly.

"We have the concept, we have the idea. We're basically looking at is if it's patentable? Is it something we can bring to a company and they can use their software to develop it? Or, is it something we have to create our own software for?" asked Schieve.

At this point, the idea is that employers and parents would pay $4.99 a month for the ability to control texting and web surfing while driving.
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