Giving Back: Free app prevents teens from texting and driving

Published 12:50 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2015

LAPLACE — In addition to horrific news reports and alarming national statistics of deaths due to texting while driving, Michael Watson, owner of Jim’s Body Shop, heard firsthand the stories of wrecks caused by drivers’ use of cell phones.

In the past five years, over 30 percent of the vehicles Watson repaired were the result of distracted driving.

“I thought that surely there was an app to prevent teens from texting while driving, but found none with the accountability I wanted,” Watson said.

He shared his list of requirements with the app building company Zapporoo.

“After 28 tries, the Text Guardian app met my approval,” Watson said.

Text Guardian is designed to be set up on a teen’s phone by a parent, who enables the password notifications that prevent their child from disabling the app. Should the teen attempt to delete the app, an immediate text is sent to the parent.

The parent selects the speed at which the app is activated. When the driver reaches that speed, any texts or calls made to the phone are blocked. The sender instantly receives a text that reads, “Text Guardian in use at this time. I will text you when it is safe to do so.”

Parents may also enter three contacts, in addition to 911, which are not blocked, ensuring the driver’s ability to make an emergency call. Except for Google maps, all other apps are blocked when Text Guardian is activated. Information about the app is also available at

Wayne Vicknair, owner of Advanced Marketing & Promotions and Watson’s business partner, sees the market for Text Guardian to go beyond the scope of parents and teens.

“Business owners who provide company vehicles or provide delivery services can also download it to their employees’ phones to prevent their drivers from using their phones while driving,” Vicknair said.

“The use of Text Guardian will build credibility,” Vicknair said. “When someone receives the message that Text Guardian is in use, it indicates a responsible driver.”

Future plans include creating a history calendar in the app, which would automatically be sent to insurance companies.

“The goal,” Watson said, “is for the insurance companies to offer discounts to those who use the app.”

Text Guardian was released in the Android and Windows market and is available for free download. Downloads, which include international users, are promising.

Watson is currently working to have the app available on iPhones.

“When Text Guardian is in use, phone distraction is not an issue,” he said. “It will absolutely save lives, and that’s my dream.”

— By Ronny Michel