Distracted driving app 'Dave' launches
New Oxford High School student Michael Ryan Jr. is driving safely in the fast lane with the creation of his free mobile app, which is intended to help put an end to distracted driving.
The distracted driving application, known as “Dave,” was a product of Ryan’s tragic loss in 2011, when five of his friends were killed in a crash along Route 94.
The deaths sparked Ryan to use more than $7,000 of his personal savings — only a portion of the total funds used — to launch “Dave.” The remainder was financed by Ryan’s parents.
“Spending the money was worth it because it’s going toward something that’s good for the community,” Ryan said.
The app took more than a year to create and was officially launched on June 2. Ryan and his dad read manuals to learn how to do the coding and hard wiring needed to generate “Dave.” The teen's parents also reached out to an app development company called Krify to help him with some of the more difficult coding aspects.
“When you have a child who is trying to save lives, how do you say no to helping them?” asked Michael Ryan Sr., who does freelance marketing and public relations consultations in the community.
"Dave" blocks all notifications, text messages and incoming calls when users turn it on. A special feature allows for three emergency numbers to still come through when the app is activated. After users install the app, they can personally manage most of the features on their phone at any time they choose.
The versatility of the app allows users to apply it to a number of situations, such as date nights or to try to get some work done at the office, according to Michael Ryan Sr.
"Any parent can download it on to the cellphone and use it for parental control, can use it to block apps and texting," Michael Ryan Sr. said with a chuckle. "I was joking with Michael that this is great for distracted driving but great for punishment as well."
The app is currently available on Android phones, and by the end of July iPhone users will be able to access the application as well.
Michael Ryan Jr. hopes to continue to expand his app in the future. For example, he hopes to eventually make it so that the app would automatically turn on when the phone is connected to a car's Bluetooth system and when the car reaches 15 mph.
To help with future expansions, the father and son auditioned for ABC's show "Shark Tank" on June 10. Michael Ryan Sr. said that the audition went well and that he and his son will hear back in the next 30 days.
Michael Ryan Jr. will start next school year as a senior at New Oxford High School. Upon graduation he anticipates that he will go into the military, though he is unsure of which branch. No matter what, technology and coding will play a part in his future career endeavors.
"My wife and I are extremely proud," his father said. "When he hit a brick wall, he wasn't afraid to ask for help. It takes a special type of person to say 'Hey, I do need help.'"