Rock Talk

Staying Focused on the Road? There’s an App for That

Last updated on May 16, 2017 at 02:41 pm

Most of us have heard the sobering statistics; according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 80% of accidents and 16% of highway deaths are the result of distracted driving. In 2012 alone, more than 3,300 people were killed and 421,000 injured in accidents on U.S. roads where drivers were distracted.

To aid in the fight against distracted driving, developers and car manufacturers have come up with a number of apps, devices and in-car technology designed to help keep people staying focused on the road and not on the phone.

Your mobile device could be a life saver.

Candy Crush, Facebook and Spotify aside, we know our phones can be used for much more than entertainment. Some mobile devices even have a safe driving mode built directly into their operating systems.

The Windows Nokia Lumia phone has a built-in driving mode, as does the Samsung Galaxy S5 running Android, both of which sync with your car via Bluetooth technology, detect you are driving and, in the case of the Lumia phone, disable all notifications apart from incoming phone calls and text messages. The Samsung Galaxy limits your options while driving to calling, texting, GPS and music, and utilizes voice command to keep you hands-free — a good start, but for some, still having the ability to glance at an incoming text message is too great a temptation.

Blackberry and iPhone do not have a safe driving mode functionality built into their operating systems as of yet, but there are a bevy of excellent apps out there that can be downloaded to operate in basically the same, and in some cases better, way.

Some apps can help you keep on track.

AT&T’s DriveMode for both iPhone and Android devices is an app that silences incoming text message alerts so you can stay focused while driving. It also helps you avoid distractions by automatically replying to text messages with whatever message you’ve pre-designated. It keeps young drivers safe by sending a text message to a parent if the app is turned off, Auto-Mode is disabled or a new speed-dial number is added.

Sprint offers a similar app for its customers called Drive First for use with Android phones. The app detects when a vehicle is moving and automatically puts the phone in driving mode, which locks the phone screen to prevent access to calls, text messages and other alerts.

There’s also DriveSafe.ly for Android and Blackberry, which instead of completely blocking your incoming messages, reads your text messages, calls or emails aloud. By reading to you, the app eliminates that urge to grab your phone and take your eyes off the road for a split second. Best of all, it automatically responds to recipients for you (with a pre-set response) or allows you to respond by voice, totally hands-free.

Other helpful apps to check out include Textecution, which disables texting completely when traveling more than 10 mph, and DriveScribe, which measures and evaluates your driving performance by giving you points, redeemable for gift cards and discounts at certain stores, based on how well you stay within the speed limit and obey traffic signals.

What tech is on the horizon?

Although a lot of great options now exist to help drivers stay safe on the road, some innovative solutions are in the works that seem to hold a lot of promise.

New York designer Joey Cofone has come up with a feature called Car Mode, which is not an app, but is an integrated setting in the iOS platform itself that turns off all visual distraction on the phone’s screen. It saves your texts, emails and other notifications until you arrive at your destination, and it lets anyone who texts you know that you’re currently in Car Mode.

In addition to programs and apps, a growing number of third-party developers are creating in-car devices and systems that determine when a vehicle is in motion and disable phone functions to the administrator’s preset customized levels, such as enabling only calls to emergency numbers or preventing texting.

What can you do right now?

In addition to utilizing all this great technology, taking a pledge against distracted driving is something that shows your commitment to keeping yourself and others safe on the road and can help prevent needless tragedy.

Check out the Plymouth Rock Assurance Pledge Against Distracted Driving, and join more than 32,000 others who have taken the Pledge at FightDistractedDriving.com.

Click here for more information about insurance in your state.

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