Whether working on the go or just cruising, there’s always the problem of how to deal with calls in the car. Holding phones to text or take calls is not only generally illegal, but a hazard to the driver, other motorists and pedestrians. According to Distraction.gov, you’re three times more likely to get into a serious crash if you use hand-held devices while driving. Not only might you run into an accident, but you’re never your best talking while distracted. For those too anxious to turn it off, here are some mobile apps that can help prevent distracted driving.
There is a class of apps that limit certain functions on your phone when driving is detected. These can be highly useful if you’re expecting an important call or you take a lot of calls for work. There are dozens of more or less restrictive options available. Drive First locks your screen, redirects calls to voice mail, blocks text message alerts (or sends an automatic response) but allows you access to three key contacts and three key applications (such as music or navigation apps).
Textecution is simpler and less restrictive, it disables texts once it detects your phone travelling faster than 10mph. DriveSafe.ly (see what they did there?) reads your texts and emails out loud for you, and can send automatic responses. Others let you dictate text messages with your voice.
If a call is important to you, especially if you need to play it back or review it for your job, you can always record it with an app like Call Recorder for Me. That one includes manual and automatic recording options for incoming and outgoing calls, including unknown numbers not included in your Contacts. This way you can pay attention to the road and return to missed information later. Other apps offer automatic transcribing of calls as well, though it’s not always very accurate.
What to Avoid
The most important thing with phones in cars is what not to do. Any app that takes more of your attention off the road rather than less is to be avoided. A physical phone cradle or mount for your car can be brilliant, but perching a phone precariously on a dashboard or cup holder and straining to use it is a recipe for disaster. If you have a new car which takes calls automatically and the call falls over, don’t fiddle with the interface – you’ve lost it, let it go.
Pull over and change the settings if you like, but looking down to fiddle with an electronic interface isn’t much safer than looking down to use your phone. If you’re going to switch from drinks (especially hot drinks) to devices make sure you do so when it’s safe and keep a hand on the steering wheel.
Try and come up with a distracted driving policy of your own, to keep yourself in check and set a good example for passengers (especially children). Will you only take emergency calls from certain numbers or no calls at all? Will you restrict your phone’s settings or turn it on silent? It could save your life.
David Peage has spent close on 20 years commuting to the office each day. With the advances in technology he is much happier leaving for work, knowing he can easily and safely take calls and plan his day from the car.