Any app that's capable of improving road safety and reducing the number of collisions is worth considering. Road accidents and deaths are a worldwide issue, and although some countries have higher levels of reported incidents than others, there's little doubt the number of accidents on the road is too high, wherever you may live.
Technology is ever-present in our daily lives, especially when it comes to driving. Statistics suggest that drivers using hand-held devices are up to four times more likely to be involved in a car accident.
While our smartphones often act as distractions and can actually cause collisions, they can also reduce the level of risk and promote safer driving through the use of apps. This guide looks at the main areas of road safety where apps are available to help you be a safer driver.
The Drive First app detects when you are driving. It then automatically responds to calls and texts by letting callers know you're behind the wheel and unable to take their call or respond immediately.
The iOnRoad offers a range of personal driving assistance features. These include collision warning, headway monitoring, and a video recording feature which acts like a black-box in the event of a collision.
This free connectivity app is aimed at reducing driver distraction. Car manufacturers like Jaguar and Land Rover are incorporating it into their Apple iOS8 infotainment platform. It is being bundled with programs like Spotify and Twitter in a hands-free voice-activated package.
This app silences incoming messages while driving and can be set to automatically turn on when you reach 15mph. It offers you a list of up to five contacts you can call hands-free. Parents of young drivers can receive a text message if the app is turned off.
The iBOLT Dock'n Drive encourages drivers to use their Smartphones responsibly while abiding by today's hands-free laws. It promises to "Turn any Android phone into a true driving assistant" by pairing their dock with the innovative Dock'n Drive "home screen" App, which has large buttons for easy access to functions on your phone while driving.
Fleetsafer is aimed at employers who want to encourage their employees to drive safely. The app detects the driving state and automatically puts the mobile device into safe mode. It uses a curtain screen to block access and silences all notifications and alerts until the journey has been completed.
Teen-safer works in much the same way as Fleetsafer, but is branded to raise awareness among teenagers on the dangers of distracted driving and the high level of road accident deaths.
The fact that you finish a journey without incident is reward in itself. Now drivers, especially younger motorists under 25 years old, can also be rewarded with lower insurance premiums if they use an app to monitor their driving performance every time they get behind the wheel.
Some insurers will offer discounted rates if you install an approved app and agree to have your driving monitored. An example of this is the Autoline Roadsafe Reward App, which uses technology called telematics and links with GPS satellites to relay information in real-time on how safely the insured is driving.
The app calculates a score based on factors such as the driver's level of anticipation, aggression, calmness, speed and smoothness. This score is used to calculate the discount earned. Roadsafe Reward is just one of a number of apps that are advertised with auto insurance policies as "pay how you drive."
This app monitors how you drive and offers useful tips and information based on the data it collects. It can tell how fast you're driving and will give a warning if you're about to exceed the speed limit. There's also a gift card offer to reward safe driving.
The following apps are aimed at teenagers and parents who want to monitor their teens' driving and make sure they're driving safely.
This app gives parents the ability to monitor their child's driving habits and notifies them when it detects unsafe driving practices. The app is downloaded on both the parents' and the teen's phones. It can detect whether the teen is texting while driving or exceeding a pre-set speed limit, among other features.
As well as analyzing a driver's technique and performance, this app also offers practical advice on how to improve driving skills. Users can even compare driver rankings nationally.
MamaBear labels itself as the ultimate parenting app, as it includes social media monitoring and location sharing as part of its features. It also offers speeding alerts, so a parent will know when their child is driving faster than a pre-set speed.
The manufacturer of DriveSafe.ly claims to have over 30 million users and estimates the app could have prevented as many as 1.5 billion distracted driving incidents. It's compatible with all types of smartphones and offers hands-free functionality.
To put it bluntly, speed kills. Many drivers are often unaware of their speed, while others overestimate their ability to control the car at high speeds. But there are now apps that use intelligent speed adaptation technology to help drivers be more aware and maintain control.
Test results for these types of apps show they can deliver considerable reductions in excessive speed, which in turn increases road safety.
Depending on how the technology is used, it's estimated that using speed control apps over a 60 year period, from 2010 to 2070, could potentially reduce fatal accidents by between 10% and 26% (approximately 15,400 and 43,300 fatal accidents). It could also reduce serious injuries in accidents by between 6% and 21% (96,000 and 330,000 accidents).
One of the fundamental requirements for the widespread implementation of this technology is a regularly updated digital map showing the speed limit on every road in the country. Temporary speed limit changes due to circumstances such as road work will also need to be taken into account by the software.
There are a number of specific apps aimed at helping drivers maintain a safe speed and ensuring they don't exceed legal limits. Here are some apps to consider:
This app is capable of helping you comply with local traffic rules and regulations by adjusting its settings according to your GPS location. The accuracy of the app scored highly in tests and you can manually adjust the speed limit.
This app aims to improve safety by providing a warning beep when you exceed the set speed limit, without the need to look at the screen or the car's speedometer so you can keep your eyes on the road.
A growing number of drivers mount their Android device on their dashboard or windshield, but this still requires the driver to take their hands off the wheel at times, thus negating its effectiveness. Hands-free operation is essential if you want to stay on the right side of the law and keep as safe as possible.
Here are some of the apps that will help you go hands-free:
Google Now is the default hands-free option, but a viable alternative is utter! This free voice command tool is considered by some reviewers to offer a superior set of tools. Instead of interacting with virtual assistants like Google Now, Siri or Cortana, it gets things done in its own way.
Gesture control technology, which involves waving at your car-mounted device, is a safer way of interacting with your device since you don't have to take your eyes off the road. utter! can be activated with a wave, and you might also want to consider some other gesture control apps:
Slide launcher and SwipePad probably offer you the quickest access to your favorite apps. Google Gesture Search lets you draw out letters or numbers to search, which may not exactly encourage safer driving. Twisty allows you to twist your phone in your hand to launch apps, which again is not a great feature to use when behind the wheel.
Using these apps while driving may mean prolonged use of your smartphone and result in draining the battery more quickly than usual. You might want to consider using an app like the free Autosleeper, which works by switching your device to standby when you turn the engine off and fires it up when you start the car again.
Whichever combination of apps you decide to install and use, hopefully the technology will help you to stay safer on the road.
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