auto Insurance Article

5 Apps for Safer Driving

According to Distraction.gov, 3,092 people were killed in 2010 in car crashes that involved a distracted driver. A whopping 416K accidents resulting in injuries involved distracted drivers, and 18% of all crashes resulting in injury were deemed distracted driving accidents.

Distracted driving is all grown up now—it’s not simply listening to music too loudly, reaching around in the car, or talking too much. The evolution of distracted driving is far more dangerous, and the culprit? Cell phones. Of course not it’s not cell phones alone, but rather the massive amount of texting, talking, and social media activity we conduct on our cell phones while driving.

It’s not a surprise many people are in denial about distracted driving and cell phones—all safety campaigns seem to be aimed at teenagers more than anyone. Yes, 40% of American teens say they’ve been in a car when a driver used a cell phone in such a manner that the passengers felt they were in danger, and no surprise—11% of drivers under age 20 who have had car accidents reported they were distracted at the moment they crashed, but drivers of all ages are guilty, some just more than others.

With 196 billion text messages sent or received just during the month of June 2011, many people are participating in this deadly roulette. Sometimes this can even occur at greater levels for adult drivers who are distracted by their cell phones—keeping up with family, friends, and work via phone calls, texts, emails, and social networking.

So how do you make yourself a better, safer driver? The easy answer is to turn off the cell phone and lock it away in the trunk. Since the obvious answer isn’t the best solution for many, drivers need to figure out ways to protect themselves and others until laws crack down harder or until the number of accidents is finally considered ‘high enough.’

The next best answer, which even incorporates your beloved cell phone into the safe driving plan, is to take advantage of the same technology causing the problem. When it comes to distracted driving, there’s an answer for that—and an app.

1.) Textecution

This app is a bit like the V-Chip parents used in cable boxes to monitor what their children were watching, and it’s like the chastity belt of cell phones. According to Distraction.gov, texting is the #1 distraction for drivers, and this app takes care of that issue head on, and is quite frankly, amazing and something everyone should have.

Although it used to just be for parents who wanted to stop teen drivers from texting and driving, any driver can benefit from this app, especially if you don’t have any self-control when it comes to ‘but I just need to say….’ It uses smartphone’s built in accelerometer to determine when you’re driving faster than 10MPH, and once you’ve reached that speed, it completely removes the option of texting at all until you’re no longer in motion.

2.) Safe Driver Pro

Nobody likes a backseat driver—except those who use this app, which offers the benefit of providing you exact info after you’ve been driving.

The exact info it offers? Safe Driver Pro uses geo-tracking to analyze your vehicle’s movements while driving, recording things such as braking habits, speeding, and rate of acceleration. If you’re not being a ‘safe driver’ then the app will tell you that immediately—although it’s best that you wait to review all that helpful info only AFTER you’ve pulled over, or Safe Driver Pro will probably scold you right away for doing so.

3.) iZup

Of course anything starting with a lower case ‘i’ has to be awesome, right? iZup certainly is, and it’s the perfect stand-in for parents or loved ones who want to take a phone away from young drivers. It’s just as good though for drivers committed to not talking, texting, or reading emails while on the road. Once you start driving, iZup kicks into gear and automatically forwards all calls and text messages to your mailbox or email for future viewing. This is perfect for those who pledge that they won’t answer a call or look at a text but who end up doing so if they think it’s something really important (something I certainly admit to.)

Quite simply, it’s just not going to let you view anything until you’re completely stopped, and fortunately, it’s not going to distract you by beeping every time something is forwarded, which can easily tempt you into checking your phone to see who’s trying to get ahold of you and why. Just think of it as a little taste of Christmas everyday—once you’re done driving, you get to view or hear everything you’ve received while driving in one single view. Who knew arriving at your destination could be that much fun?

4.) Talkler

Suri has some competition in some respects, and Talkler is quite the listener (and the ultimate personal assistant by your side every time you drive.)

Talkler is the ONLY voice-powered email app that’s absolutely free. It’s completely hands off, and will read your emails and messages directly to you while driving. A voice powered email app, you just simply say ‘Hey, Talkler’ and its activated. You can then tell the app to play your messages, including features like ‘skip to next email’ or ‘delete this email.’ You can even reply to emails by voice.

Better yet, you don’t have to suffer through the torturous, slow, electronic voices some apps have. If you want Talkler to talk more like a New Yorker, just tell it to speed up and it will follow your command. You can easily speed Talkler’s ‘voice’ up or down until you’ve met your preference.

Talkler also has two other cool features—the Talkler Teleprompter and the Talkler TapAnywhere. The Teleprompter would help if, for example, you didn’t understand the last word you heard. There will be auto-scrolling text on the screen that’s synced up with Talkler’s ‘voice’ and you can read the oversized, high-contrast screen with a quick glance—although you should of course try to keep this to a minimum.

The Talkler TapAnywhere, which Talkler calls ‘as easy as your turn signal,’ makes sure you never take your eyes away from the road and puts the power in your hands—literally. TapAnywhere utilizes onscreen gestures that function almost everywhere and totally eliminates little buttons, allows you to tap to pause or play something, tap a second time to resume a message, and will even move from email message to email message just by ‘swiping’ it anywhere in the air.

5.) DriveScribe

Parents who are looking for a way to track their children’s driving will love this safe driving app. The self-proclaimed “Digital Driving Coach,” it’s available on iTunes and Google Play. It’s geared especially towards teens, and there are a lot of options parents can set to stay informed about their children’s driving.

To use, the driver just hits ‘start trip’ when they start to drive, and then hit ‘end trip’ once they’ve reached their destination. Once the destination is reached, it will provide ‘violations’ and the information about them that was recorded, and will tell your parents (or whomever you want to allow access to) a bunch of useful statistics, as well as pre-selected information another party has chosen from the app’s options. It provides info like your speed, whether you were over the speed limit, what ‘violations’ you received, braking patterns, and driving ‘imperfections’ like tailing someone.

This app is such a coach, as a matter of fact, that it offers ‘rewards’ for good driving. As the driver continues to use DriveScribe and make trips, the driver will receive points for being a safe driver. That’s not cool enough of course, so it actually racks up the points and then allows drivers to trade in their points for giftcards from different retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon. This perhaps makes it a rewarding tool for anyone who likes to be rewarded for a good job, especially if it means they can turn their good driving into a shopping spree.

Follow Desiree on Twitter @DesireeBaughman.

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