For years, public-safety officials have expressed concerns about drivers being distracted while talking on cell phones, leading many states to pass laws requiring drivers to use hands-free devices.

Today, the popularity of text messaging from mobile devices has created an even greater concern, one that Jonathan Young hopes to address with his application that disables text functions on mobile phones in moving vehicles.

Known as Textecution, the application is the result of Young’s concerns about his son — at the time, a 15 year old with a learner’s permit — being tempted to read and send text messages when operating a vehicle.

“I felt like I had to figure out a way to prevent him from texting while driving and being on his phone when I wasn’t in the car with him,” Young said. “While I was driving, it hit me — it truly was an epiphany. ... It was amazing how it hit me as I was driving down the road to think about tying it into the GPS and manipulating the phone’s core systems so I could knock out the texting and Internet functions.”

Textecution disables the ability of a mobile phone that is traveling at a speed of 10 mph or faster — determined by GPS — to send, receive or create text messages to limit potential distractions to a driver, although the phone’s voice functionality is not impacted, Young said. The ability to block Internet access to the device also is an option when such movement is detected. The device’s texting functionality when the phone stops moving at vehicle speeds.

Of course, Textecution cannot discern whether the phone user is the driver or a passenger in a vehicle, so Textecution includes an override feature that can be executed by an administrator — typically, a parent.

“If a parent knew that the child was a passenger in a vehicle or on a field trip, there’s an override feature where the child could press a button on their phone that will send a text message to their parent who is assigned to the application and the parent can press ‘Allow’ to disable Textecution for a predetermined period of time,” Young said.

Available only on Android phones today, Textecution can be activated through the Android application store for a one-time fee of $29.99 or for free from one of 400 Wireless Zone stores nationwide. Wireless Zone traditionally has supported safe cell-phone use by drivers by offering hands-free voice accessories at no cost, but the franchise believes texting while driving is a bigger concern, said Kevin Downs, Wireless Zone’s vice president of marketing.

“I don’t think they can help themselves. … A lot of times, there’s nothing more important in the world than answering that text message,” Downs said of teens’ desire to read and respond to text messages. “A program like this takes temptation away.”

And that’s important, because studies indicate that a driver is 22 times more likely to be in an accident while texting — some studies indicate that texting while driving is worse than drinking while driving, Young said.

“Really, I invented it initially to protect my son, and now it’s grown into something much bigger than that,” he said. My goal at this point is to keep our roads safer for everybody’s benefit.”

Downs said Wireless Zone believes that Textecution is the best application for teen drivers but acknowledged that “it’s not for everybody.” Specifically, Downs noted that enterprises may want to use a similar application available for BlackBerrys. In addition, other applications use voice-recognition technology to enable users to listen to text messages and respond to them with voice commands.