Apps to prevent distracted driving
Here's a rundown on apps to keep you from being distracted by emails, texts or phone calls while out on the road.
Wed, Jan 25 2012 at 3:27 PM
With distracted driving on the rise across the United States, and much of it associated with drivers paying more attention to their cellphones than the road, software developers are creating apps to prevent distracted driving.
Obviously the best app to prevent distracted driving is a driver not paying attention to their phone while driving, and waiting to answer calls or text messages after arriving at a destination. But since that amount of self-control seems challenging for some, here’s a rundown on apps to prevent distracted driving.
Sadly, Apple devices don’t have many options available on them, most likely due to the iOS not running apps in the background. But a number of apps do have information on distracted driving laws for users to educate themselves with, including Griffin DriveSafe, Distracted Driving Laws and Dangers of Distracted of Driving.
Most of these apps utilize the smart phone’s GPS, and as a result, they can occasionally be real battery drainers. We recommend having the connected to a car charger while the apps are in use.
How it works: Ideal for parents with driving teens, the MMGuardian app is installed on the teenager’s phone and then the app can be controlled from the parents’ phones without needing to install the app. A series of commands can block out text messages, phone calls and even lock the phone during a set schedule.
Devices: Android, Blackberry
How it works: ZoomSafer is for business owners who have drivers that are often on the road, and want to keep their employees safe. This app allows business owners to set up an on-board diagnostic device on phones and vehicles to trigger the app so it can tell when the car is in motion. This will prevent calling (except for emergencies), texting and Web access while driving. The $2,500 covers 10 phones, supplies 10 on-board diagnostic devices and basic training for employees.
Devices: Android devices on Sprint (Blackberry and Windows 7 devices forthcoming)
Cost: $2.00 a month per line
How it works: Available only to those who receive cellphone service through Sprint, the Drive First app will block incoming calls, incoming texts and prevent application use. Calls will be rerouted to voicemail and texts will be responded to with a custom message. An option to allow certain phone numbers through the block is available. Sprint says the service won’t drain the battery too much.
Devices: Android, Apple, Blackberry (Windows 7 forthcoming)
Cost: The app is free, but also supplies “pro” versions for $3.99 a month for an individual, $9.99 monthly for up to 4 phones or $7.99 monthly for businesses. Yearly rates are available as well.
How it works: This app won’t block your incoming text messages or calls, and will instead read incoming calls and emails to you out loud while the app is activated. The free version will read the first 25 words of a message in a female voice, but will not allow you to dictate a reply using your voice. The “pro” version offers to read up to 500 words in a male or female voice and you can dictate a reply.
Devices: Apple (iOS 3 or higher), Android
Cost: $11.99 for initial download, $11.99 annual fee
How it works: SafeCell kicks in when it notices the user travelling more than 5 miles per hour. Using the GPS, the app will notify the user of a state’s cellphone usage laws, if a school zone is nearby and disable the call, text messaging and Web access on devices. One of the differences with SafeCell is its rewards program. Drivers get points for engaging in safe driving that can then be redeemed for Visa or American Express gift cards.
Know about other apps to prevent distracted driving? Let us know in the comments.
More distracted driving stories from MNN and partners:
- Distracted driving: Tips to stay focused
- When are teens ready to drive?
- The distraction epidemic: Does anyone just drive anymore? (from Allstate)