Since 1972, the number of traffic deaths has decreased due to stricter enforcement of the laws and improved driver training programs but accidents still happen. In the first three months of 2012 alone, traffic fatalities rose by 13.5%. Over 7,000 people lost their lives. But new drivers are always taking to the road and safety education has to keep up with the times. In today’s modern society, smartphones are more common than house phones. This allows road safety education and technology to merge by introducing safe driving apps that span the gamut of roadside issues. Need your teen to stop texting while driving? There’s an app for that. Need to know how to change a flat tire? Get an app. Here’s a list of some of the 10 most useful apps on the market right now.
1. Key2SafeDriving - All Phones
This is another app directed at the dangerous act of texting and driving. This pricey product works by installing a device underneath the steering wheel. Your phone enters ‘safe driving mode’ while the car is in operation and prevents the user from texting, automatically sends instant replies to incoming texts and is specifically tamper proof and if someone, i.e. your sneaky teenager, tries to outsmart the system, parents are instantly notified. Packages start at $99.95.
2. SaferCar - All Phones
This app, introduced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), gives users access NHTSA site information in an easy to use format. 5 Star Car Safety Ratings, recalls and complaints, and child car seat installation instructions are examples of what you can find. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said about the app: “This app takes advantage of the latest technology to ensure that consumers have real-time information they need to buy safe, drive safe and stay safe.” This app is free and compatible with most phones.
3. Gas Buddy - All Phones
Have you ever run out of gas on an open road without the proper backup? It’s not a good feeling and you really wish you would have noticed the last time you passed a gas station. Even ten years ago, you would have to walk until you found a station and most likely, there would have been one much closer in the opposite direction. Luckily, technology is here to save your gas-less day. This app lets you know where the nearest gas station is and even how much you will pay for the gas. If you have the luxury of time, you can pick and choose to suit your budget. This app is free and is compatible with all phones.
4. Repair Pal - iPhone
Whether you need a routine oil change or your timing belt has just snapped on the highway, this award winning app provides you with valuable information. You will know how much a standard procedure costs, where to find a great mechanic and gives your one touch access to roadside assistance. Be prepared and get this free app. Compatible with iPhones.
5. DriveScribe - iPhone
This is another app aimed at teens. It may seem the safe driving market seems to overwhelmingly target young driver but there’s a reason. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for teenager and between 5,000 and 6,000 are killed each year. This app, similar to other, prohibits texting, calling and internet use but also monitors speed and driving habits. With safe driving skills, users are able to accrue points which they can use to buy gift cards. This app is free and available on the iPhone.
6. Not While Driving - Blackberry
This app is more suitable for adults who wish to avoid the distraction of incoming calls and email chirps. The app uses GPS to know when you’re operating the car and will automatically put the phone into sleep mode. You can select a message to reply to incoming text message and emails but you can easily take the phone out of sleep mode with one touch. This app is free but only compatible with the Blackberry.
While some states have completely banned all cell phone use, others have taken a no hands approach, which this app allows for. When you get a text message or email, this app will read it out loud to you and can automatically respond and it never requires the driver to remove hands from the steering wheel. You can also set up command functions. This app ranges from $3.99 to $7.99 and is compatible with most phones.
8. Safe Driver
Another app aimed at parents and teens, this allows the ultimate parental control or self-control if you believe you have a certain lack. Using this app, administrators can monitor and control maximum speed and g-force. If you violate this, a message is sent to the administrator. It’s free and compatible with the iPhone.
This app, when installed on an Android device, allows parents to stop their children from using the phone to make calls and text message while driving. The phone comes with a detector that senses when the car travels over 5 mph. It automatically switches the phone functions off but parents can override the controls. This app hasn’t been updated for quite a while, but if you want to start free it might be worth a download. Compatible with Android only.
Using technology to encourage safe driving is a great way to provide a variety of educational tools for people of all ages. With that said, an app will never replace good defensive driving skills and focused attention on the road. If you really want to avoid an accident, use the old fashioned methods of keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.