Driving while texting or looking for Pokémon is not very smart.
But some smart phone apps actually increase drivers’ safety.
That’s right, I’m encouraging drivers to use an app while driving — but only safe driving ones, of course.
OK, which ones? Let’s start with ones helping our youngest drivers be more safe on the roads.
The best ones will help your teenager have fun while learning to drive safely. Let’s face it, having his or her beloved cell phone tell your teen to slow down is a lot more fun than you repeatedly pointing out she’s speeding.
I’ve lived through this experience and lots of you have too and will agree that you’re glad there’s a better way to do it now.
Flo Driving Insights and SafeDrive create real life video games for safe driving. Your teen can enjoy competing with friends for who is the safest driver.
One cool feature is that you earn points for not touching your phone while driving. Gaining a competitive edge is just one more good reason for not texting while driving.
Making these games even more enjoyable, you can actually use your safe driving points to buy stuff or get a discount on your insurance.
Both apps are free, so there’s no risk in checking them out.
Milz encourages your teen to drive safely with cash. You and other family members sponsor your teen’s safe driving. Your teen earns money for every mile he drives safely. For example, you may agree to donate 10 cents per mile of safe driving, so you would pay him $2 for 20 miles.
The idea is that your teen is initially incentivized by cash, but forms good driving habits that last a lifetime. What a small price to pay for your peace of mind.
But your teen may not be the only one who could use a reminder. These apps can act as a virtual driving instructor that points out driving habits you might not otherwise notice.
AT&T customers can download the DriveMode app that turns off the ringer and text alerts while driving. Those without AT&T service can use the DriveSafe.ly app.
Similar to an “out of office” email reply, the apps respond to sender or caller that you are driving and will return the text or call when safe to do so. You aren’t tempted to just take a glance at that text or quickly send a short text — those brief moments are enough to cause a serious accident. These apps take distracted driving out of the picture.
The DriveWell phone application allows you to rate your own driving skills. The app collects relevant data, such as phone distractions, speed, smoothness and road type, and applies the logistics to produce a score of 1 to 100. Along with the total score tally, the app sends you tips for improvement and suggests route maps.
Because DriveWell runs in the background of your phone, you can turn it on before leaving the driveway and leave it alone until you have reached your destination.
These aren’t the end-all to safe driving, but these apps can help. After 36 years helping auto accident victims, I am happy to endorse anything that improves driving and prevents car crashes.