The dangers of texting and driving are indisputable.
In grocery stores and on sidewalks, smartphones have led to endless completely dumb, entirely embarrassing moments. On the roads, those slight inconveniences drive serious consequences. It’s not just texting. Social media, including Facebook, Snapchat, e-mail, and other web-based diversions can lead to more than social snafus. Distracting driving impairs attention to the road, response time, and needed focus.
A few facts:
- Checking a text takes your eyes off the road long enough to drive the length of a football field at 55 mph. That is less than 5 seconds! After just 2 seconds of your eyes off the road, your chances of a crash double.
- One-third of drivers admit to texting and driving and 25% of crashes involve a cell phone
- 94% of teenage drivers know the danger, but 35% - 43% of teens admit to texting and driving anyway
Make the car a phone-free zone! It is tempting to look at a text or juggle with the phone when an alert pops to life on your drive. Even if unintended, using a smartphone for directions leaves you open to distracting driving. Teenagers are especially prone to text and drive, so set a good example and enforce safety guidelines. A few good-driving safety habits and tech options can support no-phone zones to keep your family safe.
Tips for driving safety in a mobile world:
- Use GPS or console maps that are exclusively for directions and drive with visuals mounted in clear sight
- Put the phone on silent for the duration of the drive
- Put the phone out of sight and reach while driving
- Set a down-tempo drive playlist ahead of time (leave your favorite up-tempo and sing-a-long tunes for another time) to avoid distracting driving
- Text ahead to people to let people know you will be unavailable for the drive duration. Some navigation apps allow you to send an ETA or share your drive so that you don’t have to.
- Keep everyone in the car phone-free to minimize temptation, allowing the car to be a focused area free of distracting driving
- Set the example for younger or inexperienced driver by not multitasking or being distracted drivers
If you absolutely have to use your phone:
- Assign a navigator to help drive safely
- Use hands-free options, including Bluetooth or Siri
- Make sure your phone is displayed to easily glance at it without losing track of the road
- Get an app
Here are a few driving apps that read messages aloud or silence calls, messages, and social media:
- Mentor App for Families makes driving improvement simple. Mentor collects driver data for each trip and over time to build an overall FICO® Safe Driving Score. This allows you to track progress and set goals. Mentor provides customized “playlists” of interactive training interventions, tips, reminders and progress reports based on which habits your teen needs to improve. Learn more about the Mentor app!
- AT&T DriveMode turns on automatically when going 15 mph and has built-in parental notifications (iPhone or Android regardless of carrier)
- DriveSafe.ly reads aloud your texts in real time and then responds automatically while you drive (Android or Blackberry)
- Cellcontrol is a paid "safe driving solution" that allows companies or families to install, on any device, and track multiple drivers safe driving. It keeps your phone on the home screen and disables calls, texts, and social while vehicles are in motion. The app also reports on safe driving, including monitoring speed, cornering, breaking and other dangerous or distracting driving behaviors.(iOS and Android)
- OneTap allows you to monitor other drivers for distracting driving habits as well as automating responses to calls and texts, sending them driving statuses and ETAs (Android)
- Waze is a navigation app that can share your route, ETA, and arrival notification with people so that you drive without fiddling with your phone. It also does not allow drivers to enter destinations while moving, for additional safety. (Android and iPhone)
- LIfeSaver blocks phone use automatically when driving and notifies parents when their teen driver arrives safely. The app allows parents to set guidelines, monitor teen driving safety, and grant awards like iTunes for good driving. It is like a behind the wheel test you can give your teen driver at any time. (iOS or Android)
- DriveMode is an app best suited to more experienced drivers who are already practiced at driving safety. It simplifies user interfaces and access to blue tooth so that using your car for driving directions, automatic or voice replies, and music is simplified and less distracting. (Android)
- Focus does not interfere with incoming calls or texts, but it does get angry when you use your phone and drive. It automatically monitors for distracting driving practices and gives warnings to train more experienced drivers not to use their phone. (iPhone)
One of the greatest temptations that leads to distracting driving is the smartphone. When used during a drive, a smartphone can make distracted drivers dangerously dumb. Put the phone away and drive safe.