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New texting app aims to prevent tickets, accidents

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Authorities have been cracking down on drivers who text or talk on the phone while driving.  In the past week alone more than 350 people on Oahu were ticketed in "Safer Roads Operations."

More than 25,000 people statewide have been cited for talking or texting while driving and that's not even including the numbers for 2012. But two local guys have developed an app to help you avoid a ticket and stay safe.

The ban on using mobile devices while driving was passed three years ago.  Still plenty of people disregard the law.  Last week Honolulu Police ticketed 57 drivers on Likelike Highway for using their phone.  And another 63 were caught on Nimitz Highway and Waiakamilo Boulevard.  Yet in the same locations today we still saw people on their phone.

The Government has collected nearly $1.8 million in fines, $1.5 million of which came from people on Oahu.  In addition to fines, texting has also caused plenty of accidents nationwide.

"The statistics are pretty amazing. They say every five minutes someone gets hurt or killed due to texting while driving," said Bob Cleaves, Monkey Message.

Bob Cleaves developed a new app called "Monkey Message."  It allows you to text hands free.

"Message from Chuck. Message is: Hey Bob. Do you want to grab some lunch? Do you want to reply?" said the voice on the phone.

"Yes. Let's go get some chicken," responded Cleaves to the phone.

"You said let's go get some chicken. Do you want to send?"

"Yes."

Cleaves says the app is different from Siri and other phones because it will read your text, transcribe your reply, confirm and send the message all by your voice.

 It also works in 20 different languages including Spanish, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, French, Swedish, Korean, Chinese and Japanese.

Its 99 cents to download.  A deal considering a ticket from police is $147.

"For 99 cents you're not really going to become the next Google but if we do end up saving lives or helping people in their daily routine that's reward enough," said Cleaves. "And I really think it will prevent a lot of accidents from happening."

However it's only available on Android phones, not Apple products yet.

"We're looking at doing a version on the Apple platform but they do not allow you as an outside app to monitor incoming messages," said Cleaves.

That's something to look for down the road.

As for the explanation behind the name.

"It made sense because the app is so easy to use even a monkey can do it, so Monkey Message," said Cleaves.

You can search Monkey Message on the Google Play marketplace.  You can also find more information at the Monkey Message website by clicking here.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.