We all know we shouldn't be using our mobile devices on the road. But despite reports of people being killed and laws being passed in more than half of U.S. states that prohibit some or all cellphone usage while driving, we're still talking and texting. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), 40 percent of drivers reported they use their cell phone while driving at least a few times per week, and 19 percent talk daily. As a result, 22 percent of car accidents in 2009 were caused by cell phone usage.
Since we can't seem to stop ourselves from potentially fatal auto-multitasking, there are several apps to help curb our deadly car-texting and phoning. These solutions come in three basic types:
- Dial-In Service
You phone into a text-to-speech/speech-to-text subscription service, which reads you your emails and lets you compose responses—all through voice command.
- Cell Phone Applications
Apps such as T-Mobile's DriveSmart Plus and Key2SafeDriving sense when you’re driving, usually by GPS measuring your speed, and disable most or all of your phone's functionality once a pre-determined speed is reached. All offer some sort of emergency override and passenger-usage exceptions, and some include Web-based cellphone-use monitoring.
- Combination Hardware/Apps
Instead of relying on GPS to sense car usage, a small module gets attached to a part of your car such as the emergency brake or the OBD (on-board diagnostics) module. Once the module is triggered by car usage, a signal disables your phone. Another set of solutions uses a Bluetooth module to enable all-voice and text-to-speech capabilities.