TODAY   |  April 20, 2014

Do apps that stop drivers from texting actually work?

Everyone knows texting and driving is unsafe. Now there are apps available that help parents monitor their kids on the road and aim to prevent texting and driving, but do they work? NBC’s Janice Lieberman reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> 100%. we worry about our kids texting and ourselves. now there are apps available to help parents monitor children while they're on the road. we asked a family with three young drivers to check them out. it only takes seconds. one look down and a frightening crash. jerry shankle constantly sends his three daughters videos like these. to remind them not to text and drive.

>> it also makes me think of, you know, it's not going to happen to me. i'm just going to send one text message , and then i'll be fine.

>> reporter: jerry's daughter, kirsten , learned a hard lesson several years ago.

>> i looked down at my phone for a moment. and i ended up -- i was in a car accident .

>> reporter: but the girls admit they still look at their phones every once in a while .

>> i am guilty. of using my phone.

>> i have checked my phone. i have sent a text. i have read a text. i've answered my phone before.

>> reporter: we found three apps meant to offer parents some peace of mind while discouraging drivers from texting behind the wheel. taylor tried cellcontrol driveid at $129. it works by blocking all driver cell phone functions when the car is in motion. it also allows her parents to track her car. kirsten was set up with drivesafe.ly for $13.95 annually. the app reads your texts and e-mails outloud.

>> a message from aubrey.

>> hey, what's up?

>> reporter: and lindsay, text limit. for $24.99 a year she couldn't make calls or texts on the road. and her parents could monitor her driving activity. a week later, we checked in with our young drivers and their parents. first up, cell control's driveid.

>> it has the device in the car. once you start your car and put it in drive, it totally blocks all functions of the phone.

>> reporter: as for that $129 price tag?

>> i do think that's worth it. you know, for what it's doing. i mean, saving your life.

>> reporter: lindsay had the text limit app.

>> i couldn't do anything on my phone. but if somebody called me i could answer it. and if somebody texted me, i would look down and see the text.

>> reporter: the makers of text limit noted that apple devices override textlimit to allow incoming text message alerts. however, the user cannot read the entire message or send outgoing messages. as for kirsten 's experience with drivesafe.ly which reads texts and e-mails out loud?

>> it didn't prevent me from texting e-mails and receiving phone calls . i did find it a little distracting.

>> reporter: drive safely responded saying if you prefer not to listen to your messages read aloud or to respond by voice, you can use drive safe.ly as an auto responder. it sends a message back to sender letting them know you are driving. consumer reports says this technology is a good start.

>> we found many were very beneficial. they're not perfect yet. they're certainly a step in the right direction.

>> reporter: and mom and dad are glad their daughters tried these apps.

>> i had a little bit more peace of mind this weak.

>> this week we had three less distracted drivers on the road.

>> big daddy 's watching.

>> big daddy 's watching.

>> always. we should note the driving filmed in our peace was done with safety in mind. we kept the girls in the parking lot.

>> and monitored it and monitored their speed. there is also a very low tech, completely free option that people have. that's simply to put your phone somewhere where you can't even reach it or see it or hear it.

>> put it in the backseat. have a designated reader. my son who's 11 reads my texts to me. if it's absolutely crucial he can actually write back. but just forget it. everything can wait.

>> your son in the car. that's a good reminder that we're setting the example.

>> it's hard.

>> great information all around. janice, thanks.