Can Smartphones Reduce Distracted Driving?

There’s no question that to stay safe behind the wheel, drivers should keep their hands on the wheel, their eyes on the road and their minds on what they’re doing — anything else could become a deadly case of distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Last year, Erie Insurance analyzed the top 10 driving distractions involved in fatal crashes and found that – unsurprisingly – cell phone use was one of the most common causes. But despite the warnings, some drivers continue to use phones while driving. It’s an epidemic that shows no signs of going away completely. That got us thinking – are there smartphone apps that could make drivers safer?

“There’s no question that it would be better if people didn’t use their phones at all while driving, but because we know they sometimes do, we thought it would be worthwhile to make people aware of tools that may help them do it more safely,” says Doug Smith, senior vice president of personal lines at ERIE.

ERIE contacted the bloggers behind TechGuySmartBuy, Because I Said So, and RichMom and asked each to test a different app—DriveScribe, Canary and Vokul™, respectively. (Note: ERIE does not have a relationship with the bloggers or the app developers and is not promoting or discouraging the use of any app.)

Below are some of the bloggers’ top takeaways*.

Blogger App What the blogger liked most What the blogger liked least Did it help reduce distraction?
TechGuySmartBuy DriveScribe: provides real-time coaching on driving behaviors such as excessive speed, failure to stop at a stop sign and hard braking; earn gift cards for safe driving Automatically blocks incoming texts and calls; real-time warnings about speed, hard braking, etc., increasing awareness of unsafe driving behaviors Can’t see driving information on the app—must go to the desktop app to review driving habits Yes
BecauseISaidSo Canary: Allows parents to tell when teens are texting, talking, speeding or using social media Easy to install; great concept to monitor teens’ use of phone and speed while driving Can be turned off by teen; uses battery life; provides speed of car but not speed limit where car is located, so impossible to tell if teen is speeding Somewhat
RichMom Vokul: Hands-free voice control app enabling drivers to dictate texts and emails, post to Facebook and Twitter, call contacts, and listen to music Very easy to manage iTunes library and play music hands free; can listen to emails and social media feeds and post status Couldn’t respond to others’ Facebook statuses; can’t reply to email from new contact unless it’s already in address book Somewhat

*The opinions expressed above are those of the individual bloggers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Erie Insurance.

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