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Texting while driving has become such a problem that in some jurisdictions, like New York State, highways now have roadside “texting zones” so people can safely pull over and respond.

There are many reasons people text and drive, meaning there is no single solution to the problem. Giving people outlets, such as texting zones, is one. Issuing stiff penalties is another. Education can also go a long way.

Often, however, people text while driving because they receive a text and fear a delayed response may be perceived as rude.

One simple solution is software that can auto-respond to texts, letting the sender know that the recipient is driving (or in a movie or sleeping, etc.) but will reply as soon as it’s safe or convenient to do so. It’s the equivalent of voicemail for texting.

There are many apps for Android devices that do this, one of the most popular being Auto SMS Lite. But those texters using Apple iOS-based devices, such as iPhones, are out of luck. Apple doesn’t like third parties messing with its messaging software. But at the same time, the company hasn’t come up with its own auto-responder feature, leaving its customers without a valuable tool that can make our roads safer.

One company, Otter LLC, has even launched a petition at Change.org urging Apple chief executive Tim Cook to resolve the matter. So far, there’s no sign that Apple plans to make this a priority. (Click here for more information about Auto SMS Lite or to download the app.)

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