Fighting Fire With Fire: Apps Aim to Prevent Distracted Driving

Ever use your phone while driving? If you said no, you're probably not being entirely truthful. Sending or reading texts at a stop light counts, by the way. Even if you've never posted to social media while driving, most people are guilty of using apps or messaging while behind the wheel. It's almost habit; and since most of us feel like we are good drivers, we don’t believe that the dangers really apply to us. Changing people's minds – even with sobering evidence – is nearly impossible. But in the spirit of the adage “if you can't beat 'em, join 'em,” software developers are currently working on apps that fight against distracted driving.

Smartphone use is a major cause of distracted driving accidents. Technology is now being developed to keep drivers off their phones. In addition to apps that lock phones down, others offer incentives for not touching the phone while behind the wheel. Popular free apps available for both Android and iPhones include AT&T DriveMode and SafeDrive.

Reading just one text message takes an average of five seconds. That's five seconds that your eyes are off the road. The kid with the bouncing ball isn't going to check to make sure you're paying attention before darting into the road. The person on the motorized scooter on the shoulder isn't looking back to make sure you're staying in your lane. The government says that about 10 percent of traffic fatalities in 2015 involved distracted drivers, which is up almost 9 percent from the year before. That equals 3,477 out of more than 35,000 deaths. In the first six months of 2016, traffic deaths were already up more than 10 percent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants smartphone makers to work toward bringing these numbers down by allowing phones to sense when a person is driving and effectively lock out most apps. They want auto makers to be sure they're making their vehicles compatible with such technologies.

Distracted driving apps strive to keep your attention on the road mainly by blocking you from phone usage or by incentives. Some can track the miles you've driven safely; some offer rewards for distraction-free driving; and some even send notifications to parents. Before selecting an app, be sure to check to be sure it's compatible with your operating system and that it has what you're looking for. Here are a few to consider:

  • – GPS monitoring and a rewards system (great for teens) are the main draws of this app. It won't allow you to use your phone while driving and, as added bonus, it sends notifications to loved ones once you've arrived safely at your destination. Commercial fleet managers can keep an eye on their drivers' habits this way, also.
  • AT&T DriveMode – This app is easy to set up, is very user friendly, and is available for Android and iOS. Set up prizes for groups of drivers, block usage, and monitor when your teen has deactivated the app or changed the settings. Available on all carriers, it turns on automatically when your vehicle is moving more than 15 mph.
  • – The big difference between this app and others is the “trip score” feature. It utilizes a rating scale and not only points out moments where you may have been distracted, but it also compares driving scores and shows a driver's location in real time. Parents of new drivers might find this feature particularly useful, though there is no rewards feature with this app.
  • Drive Beehive – Connect with sponsors, such as schools, businesses, family, friends, for a personalized reward system. Sponsors can set rewards with this very easily, and it is the official safe driving app of People Against Distracted Driving (PADD). Drive Beehive is the only one of the four discussed here, however, that does not actually block any calls or texts.

If you or someone you love has been injured by someone who chose to drive while distracted, you need an experienced attorney to effectively represent your interests. At Stabinski Law, we have successfully represented victims throughout Florida who have been seriously hurt by negligent drivers. We have also assisted families who have lost loved ones in traffic accidents. For over 45 years, we have been helping injured motorists, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists put their lives back on track, and we are ready to help you. For advice on how to proceed next, or if you have any questions about this topic, call 305-643-3100 or fill out a free case evaluation form.

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