While the winter months in Tennessee bring festivities that help to dispel the gloom of shorter days and longer nights, often accompanying the cheer of the holidays are dangerous driving conditions. We may not be overwhelmed with the intense snow storms that hit the northern states annually, however, black ice and sleet can make our commutes a white-knuckle experience. Pair poor driving conditions with other distractions and you'll find that the months of December, January and February are not kind to drivers in Tennessee.
For these reasons, it's doubly important to reduce whatever risks that can limit a driver's focus and response time. If you have been reading articles and blogs on our website, you know that a major distraction for drivers is the cellphone. In an unfavorable review of our state's drivers, the National Safety Council reported that the state led the nation in cellphone-related car accidents. In spite of the fact that most drivers know texting and driving is dangerous, adults and teens admit to engaging in this activity.
While the obvious solution to this problem is to power down the cellphone when driving, many drivers resist turning their phones off because they are afraid that they will miss an important text or message. In many cases, those driving choose to text in order to respond to a message they received. If only there were a way to drive safely while letting others know the driver is occupied so that the driver could focus on the road. Many accidents could be avoided with this technology.
The technology does exist. Those owning smartphones with Android or iOS platforms can install cellphone blocking apps onto their phones for free. The applications are available on online app stores with technology developed by cellphone service providers, insurance companies and software companies. While the applications are targeted to teenage drivers, adult drivers can benefit from the software as well.
The following apps are free and do not require hardware to be installed in your car in order for the app to be activated:
This application was developed by the insurance company, Esure, to benefit owners of Android phones. The technology incorporated into this application activates the app when the car exceeds 10 mph. When the car is in motion, the application disables other distracting apps and blocks calls and texts messages.
The cellphone service provider, AT&T, created its free app for customers with Android phones. In addition to blocking incoming calls and texts, the app provides an auto reply to senders to inform them that the driver is engaged. To further reduce the temptation to look at the phone, the app temporarily mutes the phone so that it does not ring when it receives a message.
Designed for parents who want to advise their teen drivers when their children are driving alone, the DriveScribe app gives warnings to drivers when it detects the car moving at excessive speeds. The application blocks texts and calls when the car is in motion and can provide a record that reveals the car's speed and a map of the route taken.
In addition to these applications, most cellphones have auto reply options in their settings. The auto reply is relatively simple to activate just before starting a road trip.
Driving safety should be a concern of all who share the road. As the roads grow increasingly slick with sleet and ice, drivers can take steps to enhance the safety of passengers and others. These apps can ensure that tricky driving conditions won't put a halt to celebrating with family over the holidays. With the winter season upon us, let's work to make the holidays exciting for all the right reasons.