Let’s face it, we’ve all done it – took that urgent call while driving, fired off a quick text message while at the wheel. One in four accidents that happen still involve a smartphone, where someone was talking, texting or sending some form of message or email. So now the tech industry has decided it is time to step in and help to save us from car accidents with a range of new apps and gadgets.
While nearly every cell phone provider in the US offers some form of tech to help drivers concentrate on the road and not their phone, one of the ones that gets the best reviews is DriveMode from AT&T.
The system starts working the moment the car moves at above 15 mph and silences all text alerts. However, it doesn’t get all parental on you and lock down the whole phone – instead, it gives a pre-configured message such as ‘Driving at the moment, I’ll call you back when I stop’. You can still use the phone for music, navigation and other one click features. For parents, there is even a feature to let them know if their teenager disengages the system while driving.
The app completely removes all sources of distraction when driving and once you have set it, you just forget about it. Then say you reach the kid’s school and pull up to wait for them to come out – the app knows you aren’t moving and makes way for bingo while you wait. Once you have the kids and head off for home, it automatically reengages at the 15 mph speed.
The AT&T app works with other carriers but each have their own solutions as well. There is Drive First from Sprint that is available for Android phones and the T-Mobile DriveSmart app does the same job but costs around $5. The Driving Mode from Verizon is another that works only with Android phones so no good for those iPhone users and it does need to be manually turned on and off each time you enter the car unless you pair it with Bluetooth.
Then there are the apps from other companies that are designed to do similar jobs. SafeDrive is a free app for both Android and iPhone users that rewards you when you don’t look at your cell phone while driving. When you leave the phone, you earn points but if you touch the phone, you lose them. The points can then be cashed in at the local gas station and at a growing list of other retailers. There are even competitions against other drivers with more points and lots of glory to be won.
If knowing what your texts day while driving if vital, then the MessageLOUD app from Android is worth investing the $16 a year it costs. This app reads texts and emails out loud as your drive and works with all the big names including Gmail, MS Exchange, Outlook and Hotmail. It also allows for a one tap or swipe control to dismiss, call or delete, much like using the radio.