Carmel Valley software developer creates free app to shut down teens from texting while driving
By Samantha Tatro
For Carmel Valley resident Travis Niedosik, the idea for a new phone application started with a phone call to a friend hundreds of miles away in Florida.
His friend, recovering from a severe back injury, had recently been rear-ended by a teen who was texting and driving. The kid was texting his mother, telling her he would be home in five minutes because he was running late.
“We tell our kids not to text and drive, and not to do these things, but a lot of parents do it with their kids in the car,” Niedosik said. “A lot of parents are incentivizing their kids to use their phones while driving without even realizing it.”
Niedosik’s new application, RideSafe, recently launched on the Google Play Store. The free application detects when a person is driving and disables all communications until a test is performed to determine that the person is no longer distracted or driving.
Once RideSafe detects that the user is in a moving car, only three scenarios can unlock the phone: The user must pass an attention verification test, the car must stop moving, or the user activates emergency override. When emergency override is activated, the phone screen turns red until reset by a parent.
The process from the initial idea to the finished product on the Google Play Store took about eight months, Niedosik said, but his programming and software development background goes back further than that.
When he was 7 years old, Niedosik opened up Notepad on his computer and started changing the text around so people would believe he had created a word processing program that looked like Microsoft Word.
“When you opened ‘Help,’ then ‘About,’ it said, ‘This program was written by Travis Niedosik, and NOBODY ELSE!’ I remember the all-capitals pretty clearly,” Niedosik said. “At the time, I thought, ‘That’s it. With that on the ‘About’ box, who would believe I didn’t write this?’ What can I say? I was 7!”
Though his love of programming has spanned most of his life, recently Niedosik has been working on his application RideSafe. The conversation with his friend in Florida got him thinking about an application that could help curb texting while driving.
“The only trick is figuring out when the car is moving,” Niedosik said. “If you can figure out when the car is moving, you can stop it from allowing any texting, any calling, any of that stuff. That’s really what sort of made me think, ‘I think there’s a problem here; I think I can figure out how to fix this.’”
The product in the Play Store is an initial version, he said, and he plans to expand its capabilities and functions.
The application can detect when it’s being tampered with and sends a notification to parents.
“Ultimately, I can’t block you from uninstalling the application,” Niedosik said. “But I can notify the parent and say, ‘Hey, your son or daughter uninstalled the application you installed.’”
Also, the application has monitoring features for parents. If they did not want their children on the phone from a certain time of day to another, for example, they could remotely set that up and control it without having to access to phone.
“I think it’s very important for all parents to at least be aware of these resources,” said Niedosik, himself a father.
RideSafe is available for free on the Google Play Store.