Tuesday Tip: Car Mode
by Cheryl Sklar
Last month my daughter, Hillary, asked me to look over an essay she had written for one of her classes. It inspired me (thanks, Hillary!) to look more deeply into this app because while we all know that we shouldn’t text and drive, it’s often harder than you would expect for those of us who are experienced drivers, who think we can do anything. Since all three of my kids are driving now, it’s important to show by example what we’re trying to teach new drivers: it is SO dangerous to text while driving.
Much like Airplane Mode, Car Mode (which is already available on Android phones and is still in the design phase for iOS devices) will automatically activate when your phone connects to your car’s BlueTooth system. For older cars without BlueTooth, you can manually turn it on, like you enable Airplane Mode.
For drivers, it prohibits sending and viewing text messages. When Car Mode is on, if the driver receives a text no message notifications will appear. A red message will pop up on the sender’s phone, alerting the sender that the recipient is driving and thus unavailable to read and reply to the message. The sender can then choose to defer the message until after the recipient has stopped, or to push the message through past the warning anyway. The warning message is intended guilt people into not sending the text at all.
Drivers are only able to read texts and other notifications once they stop driving, or when Car Mode is disabled. Navigation and hands-free phone calls are still enabled in Car Mode.
Android phones already have this as an option. The Samsung Galaxy S5 has its own built-in car mode that gives specific functionality while trying to keep drivers as safe as possible. It purposely limits options that are available when driving. You can call, message, get your music and use the navigation function, all with large, easy-to-see buttons. It can also be voice-controlled; when you say “Hi Galaxy,” followed by a voice command, Car Mode will carry out the command without you having to take your eyes off the road at all. To set up this feature, either find it in your quick settings menu or register it through your Bluetooth connection. With Bluetooth, your phone will detect the connection and Car Mode will automatically engage.
I have an iPhone and Car Mode is not available yet. I found something called iCarMode for $1.99, but this is not the app described above. This app helps you drive more safely by giving you four large, easy-to-read buttons for Music, Maps, Contacts and Phone calls. It does not (yet) have the ability to prevent texts from coming and going while you’re driving.
I also found AT&T DriveMode, which is a free app even for non-AT&T customers (I am not an AT&T customer). I recently downloaded this app and it is helpful but does not do exactly what I am trying to accomplish. As a non-AT&T customer, I cannot customize an Auto-Reply to use when someone sends me a text. I can customize up to 5 speed-dial contacts, music, one favorite navigation app and a photo. When I turned DriveMode on, I still received a text although no sound or vibration came through (even though I had not adjusted my ringer volume at all), which does help reduce distractions. I had a preset Alarm that did make noise though, so if you don’t remember to turn off alarms, those will still distract you.
With DriveMode, Parental Alerts can be set up to text alerts if the safety features are disabled – useful for those who want to monitor teen drivers. DriveMode uses GPS to determine the speed at which your vehicle is moving. Be aware that GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease your phone’s battery life, but keeping your phone plugged in to recharge it will help this problem.
While I am going to have to be patient and wait for iOS applications to catch up with the much-needed no-texting-while-driving technology, I will try DriveMode for a while to see how it reduces my temptation to check my phone when I hear a text come through. Until Car Mode becomes readily available to iOS users, here are a few other safety-while-driving apps worth mentioning: Awesome HUD, Drive, iCar Mode, Car Dock Mode and iOnRoad Augmented Reality Driving.
Cheryl Sklar With over 26 years of experience in sales, marketing and general coordination, Cheryl uses her varied organizational skills to enhance the behind-the-scenes efficiency of Network 1. She strives to help things run smoothly wherever she can.
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