Chevy Calls Out Distracted Drivers

General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet unit is launching a smartphone app to help remind drivers not to pick up their phones while driving.

The “Call Me Out” app uses a phone's accelerometer and GPS to detect when it is physically picked up while traveling faster than 5 mph. The system plays personalized messages—along with a graphic of a wagging finger—recorded by friends or family telling drivers to put their phones down and pay attention to driving.

There's also a scoreboard and national rankings based on how often a person handles their phone while driving. The app is available for free from the Google Play store for Android devices.

The idea for the app came from a “hackathon” event Chevrolet hosted in October 2016 at Wayne State University in Detroit. Chevy says the system can be used in any vehicle, including competing makes and models.

An estimated 481,000 Americans use their phones while driving during daylight hours, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency says there were 3,450 fatalities related to distracted driving (including cell phones and other diversions) in the U.S. in 2016.