Most of us readily admit that we have a hard time disconnecting from our smartphones. According to data from the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of American adults now own smartphones and 46 percent of them say they could not live without them. We know it’s dangerous to use a phone while driving, but most of us are guilty of a glance at a stop light or a quick reply to an important text. Even these seemingly harmless acts can have tragic consequences. That's why mobile phone companies and cellular providers have created various apps to prevent texting and driving. One of these apps may be the solution for you or someone you love.
Why Use an App?
It may seem ridiculous to develop an app to prevent hazardous phone use while driving, but the reality is that many of us now depend on our phones for key aspects of driving, so simply turning off the phone isn't an option. Whether using a music streaming service to provide tunes for the road or a navigation app to avoid traffic back-ups, we want our phones on and connected while we're driving.
However, problems arise when we allow ourselves to be tempted by an incoming call, a social media notification, or an important text. The best new apps and services work to block the distractions while still allowing other uses for the phone.
Which Apps Work Best?
Every major cellular provider offers a service to prevent distracted driving, but some are better than others. If the app is not fairly automatic, most of us will either forget to activate it when we're driving or choose not to for shorter trips, which totally defeats the purpose of the technology.
Offerings from some major brands include:
- DriveMode. AT&T’s free app is available for iPhone and Android devices. It earns high marks for starting automatically as soon as the car exceeds 15 miles per hour. Text alerts, phone calls, and social media notifications are blocked, but you can set up the app to send an auto-response until you're available again. You'll still be able to interact with navigation and music apps, even as distracting messages are blocked. DriveMode is available to users on other carriers as well.
- Apps from other carriers. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon offer similar apps, but none are available for iPhone. For Android users, Sprint’s Drive First app is similar to DriveMode. T-Mobile charges customers $4.99 for its DriveSmart app, and Verizon’s Driving Mode only blocks texts, not other possible distractions, and has to be turned on manually every time you get in the car.
- SafeDrive. Available for iPhone and Android, this app turns staying off your phone into a game. You earn points for every trip you take without touching your phone and you can redeem your points at some gas stations and retailers.
- Screen Free Driving. An app designed for iPhone, this program actually scolds you when you touch your phone while driving. You will receive messages such as “Hang up and drive” and “Eyes on the road, Chief” whenever you touch your phone. This app launches automatically when you start driving.
- Special apps for teen drivers. Teen distracted driving is a particular problem and many parents want a solution. One highly-rated app is tXt Blocker. At $7.99 per month, parents can shut a teen’s phone down completely when he or she is driving. You can also set up “No Cell Zones” to prevent texting at school or at work, and track your teen’s whereabouts and driving habits through the website.
Whichever app you choose, taking a proactive stance against texting and driving will protect you, your passengers, and other motorists on the road from tragic texting and driving crashes.
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