Next time you’re sitting at an intersection, look around and take note of how many drivers are staring down at their phones. The number you see can be disconcerting, to say the least.
People who read or write text messages while driving are 23 percent more likely to be involved in a car crash than other drivers.
The US Department of Transportation notes that the use of cell phones while driving plays a role in 1.6 million auto crashes each year, causing 500,000 injuries and 6,000 deaths.
And while text messaging is banned for drivers in 46 states and the District of Columbia, many people continue to do it, despite knowing the dangers.
To help us all be safer, less-distracted drivers, some apps can block cell phone features—including texting while driving. Others will encourage you not to text or help you receive or send messages in a way that’s perhaps less distracting.
Apps that block texting while driving
Designed for parents, Cellcontrol is a subscription-based service that features a device inserted under the dashboard and an accompanying app that blocks your teen from sending or receiving texts while driving. It also disables other phone features while the car is in motion, such as using email or accessing the camera. You’ll get a text or e-mail alert if Cellcontrol is deactivated or removed. (For Android™ and iOS)
Also designed with parents in mind, this app prevents texting and emailing while driving. It can notify a parent or guardian when the phone is in use and if the driver shuts off the app while on the road. Signup takes only a few minutes. (For Android and iOS)
Live2Txt is an app that lets you block incoming texts and calls while driving. Turn the app on when you get behind the wheel, and you’ll silence your smartphone from incoming notifications, texts and calls. When you receive a message, the app will alert the sender with a customized message that you’re unable to respond at the moment. (For Android)
Apps that encourage you to drive safer
SafeDrive rewards you for not texting while driving. Simply open the app whenever you’re behind the wheel, and it will automatically start rewarding you with points you can use toward discounts at participating stores if you’re traveling at least 6 mph. The app tracks the number of points based on driving speed, time spent in traffic, and distance traveled. (For Android and iOS)
Drivemode’s UI is easy to access out of the corner of your eye, and text messages are turned into audio—your phone reads incoming messages aloud with the touch of a button. Swipe through canned responses to send a text back. The big, “no-look” interface runs atop any app you’re using, and breaks your phone down into various functions: Music, Calls, Apps, Destinations and Messages. (For Android)
In a similar vein, DriveSafe.ly features One Tap operation, and auto-on functionality that lets users seamlessly interact with their phone while driving. Drivesafe.ly announces callers by name, reads text messages and emails aloud, and can be set to auto-respond without the driver needing to touch the device. (For Android)