It’s one of the golden rules, or at least it should be: don’t text and drive.
We all know that distracted driving is dangerous, right? But still, nearly every one of us has seen it happen or worse – done it ourselves. Since most of us touch our phones well over 2,000 times per day, it can be a tough habit to break.
But, it only takes a quick check – just a few seconds with your eyes off the road – to invite disaster. As technology advances, it may only get harder to pull ourselves away even when we know we should.
We’d like to think that most of us would do just about anything to prevent tech-related dangers on the road. But, at the same time, going without or powering down might be too much to ask. So, why not let tech be the solution, rather than the problem?
While it might seem counter-intuitive, you can actually use tech to help prevent tech-related driving distractions. Read on for a few suggestions on how you can utilize Driving Mode and other potentially life-saving technologies to help avoid tech-related distractions on the road.
Driving mode is a potentially life-saving feature that is available for most smartphones either through an app or natively on the device itself. While it can function differently on each device, Driving Mode disables certain functionalities that might distract you from the road, primarily by limiting or blocking notifications for incoming calls, texts, emails, etc.
Driving Mode is similar to Airplane Mode in many ways, except its functionality is really tailored around how we use our smartphones on the road. For example, most apps still allow you to stream music and use navigation, while preventing you from using other functions that could be distracting (but might be accessible during Airplane Mode) like playing games or checking your calendar. While Airplane Mode cuts off the cellular service for the device, Driving Mode does not cut off service entirely.
As soon as Driving Mode is turned off, any notifications you missed should all come in at once. Certain driving mode apps even allow your phone to send an automatic reply, to let your friends and family know you’re on the road and will get back them once you reach your destination.
Depending on your cellular provider, some apps are able to detect when you’re in a moving vehicle and may automatically switch on, while others expect you to manually activate Driving Mode before you hit the road. Most Driving Mode apps are very easy to switch off as well, so you can still use your phone while riding as a passenger.
Many major cellular providers – including AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon – offer their own version of a driving mode app. You can learn more about what these providers offer by following the links below.
Mobile Apps to Help Change Your Habits
Blocking calls and messages while on the road can leave some of us feeling uneasy. If you want to work on maintaining focus on the road, but still want to be accessible by phone, there are several mobile apps that offer some middle ground. We outlined a few options below, but there are plenty alternatives which you can explore to find the app that suits you best.
SafeDrive (Android & iOS)
SafeDrive motivates its users to stay focused on the road with an element of gamification. This app does not disable any functions or block incoming calls and messages, but incentivizes you to focus with a simple point system. It automatically switches on once you’re moving over 6mph and beings monitoring your phone use. You can accrue points by driving without using your phone. And when you do choose to use it, you lose points. Then you’re able to redeem your responsibility points to purchase products in the SafeDrive marketplace.
This also has a play aspect that allows you to challenge friends or other users of the SafeDrive app to see who can avoid the most distractions while driving with their own phone.
Focus Screen Free Driving (iOS only)
This minimalist app gently trains you to not look at your phone, rather than blocking any functionality. The app automatically starts when you’re driving; once you install the app it’s invisible and begins working immediately. While you’re on the road and you pick up for phone, the screen is filled with a gentle reminder to put down your phone and focus on driving. After you start using the app, it periodically sends you a report card so you can track how driving habits.
MessageLOUD (Android only)
When this app is enabled, it automatically reads your texts, WhatsApp messages and email messages out loud without you having to look at your phone. In the right setting (like the privacy of your own home), this app can also be a convenient way to hear your messages while your hands are busy doing anything else.
Distraction-Free Tech for the Future
As we look to the future, we’re excited to see some new distraction-free tech on the horizon as well. For both new and seasoned drivers, there are growing opportunities to have the vehicle itself prevent tech distractions. Keeping the issue of distracted driving top of mind is paramount as new drivers hit the road – especially because these younger drivers have grown up in the digital age.
For those who aren’t interested in a mobile app, but still need help resisting driving distractions, a few companies are developing installable devices which limit tech-related distractions from popping up while you’re on the road. For example, Groove, which was developed by Katasi, is a device which plugs into a socket under your steering wheel. Groove is compatible with most smartphones, and works with your cellular carrier to help stop distractions before they reach your phone.
Drive ID by Cellcontrol is a similar device that can be placed on your car’s windshield. Drive ID is designed for not only individuals and families, but also fleet vehicles. When used by a family or a company fleet, Drive ID allows all drivers and vehicles to be managed from a single account.
While these devices may sound extreme to some, they’re favored by many who want an effective way to block potential tech-related distractions. When asked about these distraction-free technologies, 55% of drivers said they would not deactivate any technologies that eliminated potential distractions. As people become more aware of the dangers of distracted driving, we’re excited to watch as varying technologies are further developed and implemented to help make the road a little safer.
Do you use any of these technologies to limit driving distractions? If not, how do you maintain focus on the road? We want to hear your thoughts in the comments below!