New app tells texters U R BZZY

New Hampshire’s largest Web development company has developed a new smart phone application intended to combat distracted driving – a “deadly epidemic,” according to the U.S. Department of Transportation secretary Ray LaHood.Portsmouth-based PixelMEDIA has developed “Bzzy,” an Android application that when activated automatically responds to texts to inform that the recipient is unavailable to text.Users can choose from preset texts – like “I am driving” and “I am viewing a movie” – and can also set their own customized messages.”It’s about staying focused on whatever you are doing, but especially on driving when your life and others on the road are at risk,” said PixelMEDIA CEO Erik Dodier. “Bzzy will remove the urgency we feel to reply back right away, and instead let those who are trying to reach us know we are unavailable.”The company says the app has been downloaded by users not only in the U.S., but by those in England, France, Portugal and Malaysia.Drivers who use handheld devices are four times as likely to get into injury-causing crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.Texting while driving is illegal in New Hampshire.Surveys conducted in 2010 by the Pew Research Center found that two-thirds of all teen cell phone users are more likely to text than call their friends, and that 72 percent of all adult cell phone users send and receive text messages.Because April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the company is offering the app free through the end of the month. Bzzy is currently only available for Android phones, but may become available on the iPhone in the future. – KATHLEEN CALLAHAN/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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