Using a cellphone to talk or text while driving is among the most dangerous forms of driver distraction because it involves all three forms of distraction – manual (hands off the wheel), visual (eyes off the road ahead), and cognitive (attention focused on device).
Ironically, despite the fact that cell phone use is rampant in our technology-driven society, more technology could be the solution. Numerous apps have been created over the years to help prevent distracted driving. Smart phone apps, like the Canary app featured in a recent Fox6 WBRC article, can be downloaded and installed on people’s phones to help them curb their habit of texting or using their cell phone while driving.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each day at least nine people lose their lives and another 1,153 people are injured in accidents reportedly caused by distracted drivers.
Keeping you and those you love safe and free from cell phone-related driver distractions can be as simple as installing and using a smart phone app. Downloading one of the following apps may help you minimize driver distractions and curb the temptation to use your cell phone to talk or text while driving.
Distracted Driver Apps from Cell Phone Providers:
AT&T Drive Mode® is a free app designed to engage when the vehicle you are driving reaches a certain speed. Once this occurs, the app silences text message alerts and sends an automated reply to incoming text messages. Parental alerts can also be set to notify a parent if the app is turned off or auto-mode is manually disabled. It allows approved contacts to call or be called even when the app is activated.
Sprint Drive First is a free app available to Sprint customers. Once downloaded, the app will automatically engage as soon as the vehicle has reached a speed of 10 mph or above. When the app is activated, the phone remains locked to prevent incoming or outgoing calls and messages. Those who do call or text will be sent a message letting them know you are currently behind the wheel. A certain number of pre-designated contacts can be allowed to ring through.
Verizon has a downloadable app called Safely Go! Unlike other apps, this particular app must be manually turned on either before you get in the vehicle or before you start driving. Up to three “VIP Contacts” can be programmed to ring through, while all other texts or calls will be responded to with an automatic reply letting them know you are on the road. Calls can be set to ring through to a hands-free device.
Example of Third Party Distracted Driver Apps:
Cellcontrol is a third party app designed to minimize the risk of cell phone use while driving. It is compatible with most smart phones and can be purchased for a one-time fee of about $129. The device can either be attached to the vehicle’s windshield, or it can be plugged directly into the on-board diagnostic computer. The device is designed to disable cell phone functionality to the level the owner wishes, such as temporarily preventing texting and only allowing emergency calls to be made or put through. One of the benefits of this technology is the device has the ability to determine whether the driver or a passenger is using the cell phone.
DriveSafe.ly is a free, third party app with Bluetooth-compatibility, so any incoming texts or messages can be verbally transposed without requiring the driver to touch the phone itself. The app requires manual activation, but will send automatic responses to any calls, emails or texts received while the vehicle is being driven.
Canary is a distracted driver app that can be purchased for a flat rate lifetime subscription. This particular app is geared for parents with teenage drivers. It doesn’t prohibit a driver from answering his or her phone, or checking text messages. However, it will send an alert notifying you if the driver has unlocked the phone to use it while driving. It also has a feature designed to let you know if the driver is exceeded set speed limits, the vehicle is being driven outside a specific area, or if the vehicle is being driven in violation of a curfew.
Most people engage in distracted driving behavior more than they realize. Even using your cell phone to read a quick text message, dial a number or answer a call, could be all it takes to cause a serious or deadly accident. A vehicle traveling at 55 mph will cover the length of a football field in about five seconds. When you take your eyes off the road due to a cellphone-related driver distraction, you are traveling at least that distance or more, but doing so essentially blindfolded.
Using a cell phone app not only helps prevent distracted driving, it can minimize the risk of injury or death in a distracted driving accident.