Texting and driving is a choice. It's a dangerous choice, but nonetheless, it's a choice drivers make every time they get behind the wheel.
It's ironic that there are technologies that were created to block us from our own leaps in communication technology. However, with texting and driving being called a "national epidemic" by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, nonprofit groups to automakers, communications giants and concerned parents have created technologies that will make the roads a safer place. Here's a look at some of the applications, gadgets and in-vehicle technologies that have been invented to cut down on distracted driving.
When paired with the application MotoSpeak, the Motorola H17txt text-to-text reads text messages into the headset, in real time. Plus, you have the added ability to customize an automated response and automatically enable text-to-speech when the headset is powered on. The Best Buy store in Ann Arbor sells the Motorola H17txt.
Ford Sync technology is a hands-free system that pairs with your phone over Bluetooth. It lets you play music, make calls and get directions using voice commands. The Sync technology can read incoming texts to you from your connected phone. It can even translate commonly used abbreviations and emoticons, such as LOL and :-). Sync packages are available in most new Ford vehicles.
Many new smart phones have built in voice-to-text capabilities.
The new iPhone iOS 5, which was released recently, allows users to have their texts read back to them. Check it out in the Apple Store at Briarwood Mall.
These phones and operating systems support voice-to-text so you won't have to take your eyes off the road.
- BlackBerry, OS 4.5+
- Android. OS 1.5+
- iOS 4+
- iOS 5,
- Windows Phone 7
Local cell phone stores include: Verizon Wireless, 8070 Main St., in Dexter; and Verizon Wireless, 2570 Jackson Ave., in Scio Township.
Phone applications come in the form of auto-reply text messages and locking your screen, to voice activation and driver education. Both Apple and Android app stores offer free and paid options.
DriveMode is only for Android and BlackBerry. The free app temporarily disables some of the features of your mobile device while driving. When the app is turned on, notification sounds for incoming texts, emails and phone calls are silenced and those who are trying to reach you will receive an auto reply message letting them know you're on the road and will get back to them when it's safe. When your phone is in DriveMode, text messages and emails cannot be sent or received; however, you do have the flexibility to make and receive calls to and from up to five (5) people.
The app for iPhones will announce the texter's name to the driver and will read your email message, G Voice text messages, Facebook Chat messages and Twitter updates aloud and allows you to respond by voice.
The iPhone app rewards cell phone users credits for things such as cash and discounts for resisting the temptations of opening any applications, including texting, while driving.
The app is available for Androids and iPhones. This is for parents who want to monitor their children's texting while driving habits. The app allows full parental or third party monitoring control of all phones on the account. The account holder will receive an email if the vehicle operator is using the device for texting, email or surfing the Internet while driving. Also, an email will be sent to the account holder if there are attempts to deactivate or bypass the app. The app is free but there is a subscription fee of $1.99 per month.
This Android app cuts off texting ability if the device is moving faster than 10 MPH. If a passenger is using the device, he or she may request an override. That request must be allowed by a Textecution “administrator,” such as a parent or employer (notified by text that the request is pending). If the user tries to remove Textecution, the administrator also gets a heads-up. There is a $29.99 one-time charge.
Compatible with a wide range of smartphones, this app allows users to customize the locations and times of day—such as routine commuting or driving times—when texts and phone calls aren’t accepted. There is a $6.99 monthly for a single user.
Is a voice activated virtual assistant. The app will allow the user to message, voice dial, get directions and post Facebook and Twitter messages for free. The app is available with iPhones, Androids, Blackberrys, and Nokias.