Believe it or not, our mobile phones are a greater distraction to us while we are driving than being stressed out from a screaming child in our car. A recent CDC report found that 69% of drivers talk on their phones while driving, and 31% of drivers read or send text messages while driving. In fact, nearly 60% of high-school seniors admit to texting or emailing while driving. These numbers will only increase as each generation becomes ever more attached to their mobile devices, and the number of serious car accidents in Suffolk County and Nassau County on Long Island will also continue to rise. In my own everyday commuting to court in Riverhead and Mineola, or to my office in Woodbury, I see drivers looking down at their phones all the time. The level of distracted driving is getting out of hand, and many people are passing this dangerous habit down to their kids. As a parent, if you’re reading or sending texts while you are in your car with your kids, they think that it’s safe to do so. So when they drive, or start to drive, guess what…they will be doing it to, and that is scary. Young drivers don’t have the skills and experience to avoid many accidents as it is. If you take away precious seconds from their reaction time due to being distracted from their phones, it is clearly an accident waiting to happen. If we really want to keep our kids more safe behind the wheel on our already dangerous roads, we need to change our habits as well.
There are some great apps available to help us kick the habit of using our mobile phones while driving, and to prevent our young drivers from being distracted by their phones. Here are 5 that I came across that seem to be worth considering:
1. Canary – Whenever a driver is travelling 12 miles per hour or more and uses their mobile phone in any manner (including texting, talking, tweeting, going on line, etc.), this app logs the activity and sends a report to a person that is assigned to keep the driver accountable (For example, a parent, spouse, friend, etc.) People are so busy that they don’t realize the extent of their phone use while driving, and the risk they are taking. This app allows them to actually see in a report what they have been doing. It is also a great deterrent to know that someone else will see what they are doing, and this can help resist that temptation to read or send a text.
2. TextBuster – This app is meant to stop texting while driving, and will prevent the driver from getting all texts and emails. The driver will still be able to make and receive all phone calls. This app requires a device that is installed in the car in minutes. Using Bluetooth, it sends a blocking signal to the driver’s phone. The app is password protected so it may not be removed, and has monitoring and tracking features.
3. Drive Mode – In this mobile app, text messages and emails are read aloud in real time. It also responds automatically with no need for the driver to touch their mobile phone
4. DriveOff – If a vehicle is travelling 10 miles per hour or above, this app will prevent driver distraction by turning off all incoming calls and other notifications. A static screen saver of your choice will display while you are driving.
5. DriveScribe – This not only limits the distractions of the driver’s mobile phone, but also acts as a driving coach. It blocks incoming calls, emails, texts, etc. On some phones, it will even notify the caller that the person is driving. It also monitors the driving patterns of the driver for parents to see. When the app catches the driver going too fast or running a stop sign, it sounds an alert to the driver. The driver can even earn points for good driving that can be exchanged for gift cards. Mom & Dad may want to match the points with a little cash as an extra incentive. Parents can actually track their kid’s driving in real time, and alerts will sound on the parent’s phone if the traffic infraction is serious.
All of these apps are quick and easy to download and use. Take a look at each for yourself to determine which one is best suited for your family. Based upon my research, I like the features of DriveScribe. So, as my kids quickly approach their driving years, I will be keeping this app in mind.
Remember, when many of us learned to drive we didn’t have nearly the amount of distractions that drivers have today. The roads probably didn’t have as many cars squeezed onto them, and people’s lives didn’t seem to be so filled with places to go. Our roads are the most dangerous places that our kids will visit growing up, let’s do everything we can to help make them safer. If you would like a free DNT TXT N DRV magnet or decal for your car to help remind your family, you can visit www.NorthShoreInjuryLawyer.com to take the DNT TXT N DRV pledge.
Keep it safe out there.
Mark T. Freeley, Esq.