Smartphones have a bit of a bad rap when it comes to driving. Unfortunately, too many people tend to use them to chat to their friends, to check their e-mails or to cycle through songs. Of course this results in a momentary lack of attention on the road, which in turn can lead to a nasty accident. Smartphones are probably responsible for a lot of arguments – so leave them on the seat!
But it's not really the smartphones that are dangerous, it's the way that people use them. Smartphones can be used very safely by drivers and actually they can even be used to prevent accidents. Read on and we'll look at how smartphones can work well when you're driving and how you can use them without endangering yourself and others.
Of course one of the most obvious uses for a smartphone in the car is simply to make hands-free calls. While statistics do suggest that we still don't have our attention as fully on the road when we talk on the phone – even using hands free – this is no more dangerous than talking to a passenger in the back of a car. And seeing as sometimes we're forced to make a call, this can actually help us stay safer.
The best way to make hands-free calls with a smartphone in your car is to get a system that integrates your smartphone with the car itself. Some even have controls for answering and rejecting calls built into the steering wheel.
Siri, Cortana and Google Now
Siri, Cortana and Google Now are all apps that are designed to work as personal digital assistants that can understand natural language and carry out various tasks for you. This means that you can, for instance, tell them that you want to call someone and have the phone dial the number directly for you. It also means you can send texts to people by dictating them, that you can check the weather and that you can even ask for local traffic reports. All these things could be highly useful while driving.
Using voice dictation software like 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' you can even record notes. This isn't advisable really, but if you absolutely must note something down and you don't have time to access the computer, then being able to dictate it to your phone is pretty handy.
GPS on smartphones is highly useful and can help you to get to your destination more quickly without getting lost. This shouldn't be underestimated: it means you save fuel and it also means that you save time.
But while GPS is useful, it can still be a distraction. The best way to use it then is to put it on your phone and then actually to put the phone elsewhere. This way you can listen to the spoken instructions without worrying about having to glance at the screen every two minutes. Before you do this, study the directions just so that you know what to expect and so that you're ready for turns as they come up.
Smartphones offer a range of audio options and when combined with controls in your steering wheel or with Siri or Cortana you can safely skip tracks without having to look down at the screen.
What makes smartphones particularly good though, is the fact that you can also listen to podcasts and other types of media that might actually be more entertaining than just music. Plus, if you have the GPS on your phone, the sound will auto adjust to ensure you don't miss important instructions.