It’s a problem most of us face every day. Texting and driving.  That’s why Boca Raton man Joseph Riano created “Free Safe Text.” The idea for the app came to him when he received a text message while he was behind the wheel.  “If I don’t return the text in the next 5 or 10 minutes, they’re going to think I’m ignoring them,” Riano said.

Free Safe Text acts like a voicemail to text messages. You can also use it when you’re not driving and just don’t want to be distracted.  Some of the automatic responses are “I will respond ASAP,” “I’m driving,” “I’m in a meeting,” “I’m in class,” and “I’m in the movies.”

To help spread the word, Riano has partnered with South Florida football legend Howard Schnellenberger. The former University of Miami and Florida Atlantic University football coach said the app is brilliant.  “I jumped at the opportunity to help him keep these youngsters from killing each other and other people,” Schnellenberger said.

If you have the app turned on, you will receive text messages, but you don’t know it. Your phone will not move or make a sound to distract you.  Free Safe Text is free. This month, users can earn rewards from sponsors for using it.

Schnellenberger said FAU students like the app and will use it.  “They say – this we can deal with,” Schnellenberger said. “This is the answer we’ve been looking for.”

Free Safe Text has an option to automatically turn on when a driver hits 10 miles per hour, so texting is available when the vehicle is stopped.  Right now it is only available on Androids, but is expected to be ready for the iPhone this week.

A great resource I recently found to educate on texting and driving and also offers links to solutions (including Free Safe Text) is Distracted Driving Foundation at www.ddfn.org.  You can also go directly to Free Safe Text download by clicking here.