Technology can help prevent Bellingham car accidents from distracted driving

Teens have an even harder time than adults putting their phones away while driving. Based on new research, cell phones are increasingly thought of as an addictive substance for anyone who owns one - especially teenagers. Locking the phone in the trunk before you drive off is a lofty goal, but for those who rely on navigation apps to get around, that's not going to happen. Besides, it is psychologically extremely difficult to ignore the ping of a new message, by design.

If you have been the victim of a car accident and are wondering if you should hire a lawyer to help you, call Bill Coats Law. Consultations are free, and we work to serve the Bellingham and Whatcom County communities with empathy, grit, and determination to see a case settle fairly, quickly, and with full compensation for the accident's victims. Call (360) 392-2833 or click the chat window at the bottom of your screen today.

Even though it's a major culprit behind the epidemic of distracted driving, technology has found a way to try to help people use their phones responsibly while driving. Here are a few options to consider.

These apps incentivize safe driving and/or block drivers from using their phones while the car is in motion. This chart displays the different features an assortment of apps have. They offer safety features such as:

  • Mute text alerts
  • Send calls to voicemail
  • Send auto-replies via text that the person is driving and cannot respond
  • Some will even send alerts to parents (or a friend or family member who can be a designated distracted driving prevention buddy)

PADD (People Against Distracted Driving) has researched and approved a couple of apps that pair positive reinforcement with ignoring a cell phone's constant chatter. These are pretty brilliant, as they make changing the habit of distracted driving into a game.

Drive BeeHive is a unique peer-to-peer app. You pair with a sponsor to earn rewards points for not using your phone while driving. It is enabled when the driver opens Drive BeeHive and begins driving. A lock screen appears and will count the driver's "safe miles." All it takes to earn those miles for that trip is to not use the phone behind the wheel. If you do, your miles are reset back to zero. Once the driver reaches their goal, their sponsor will be notified to release their reward. PADD is working with consumer sponsors to offer actual rewards in the form of discounts, coupons, and freebies.

AT&T DriveMode also utilizes positive incentive in its technology. It allows users to select their own prizes and establish a private or public group of drivers, like a buddy system. The device simply blocks any cell phone calls or texts, two of the biggest offenders that take drivers' attention away from the wheel. It can be set up to automatically start when the driver accelerates to 15 MPH. Other users set up in the group can be notified if/when the app is deactivated or settings are changed. Seemingly it takes a buddy system or group to ensure accountability in treating this bad habit.

How about distracted driving apps that track driving habits? Think back when you were in driver's ed (which we hope you were.) Remember how you were dinged for making jack rabbit starts and stops? This helped drivers learn how to start and stop smoothly. Some apps use this idea for distracted driving. Obviously, driving will change if a driver is not driving but instead looking away from the road and dash at the cell phone.

Consumer Reports favorably reviewed the Cellcontrol DriveID. It can record braking, acceleration, speed, cornering, and key driving events showing the scores on the app for the driver - or the driver's parents - to view. This Bluetooth technology device attaches under your rearview mirror and pairs their app with your cell phone to help curb impulses to check, chat, or text. Your phone screen goes into screen-lock mode when the car starts moving, and only 911 or designated phone numbers are accessible. This technology also has the capability to rate driving patterns and phone usage on a scoring system. It's a great way to see the evidence of how distracted driving makes us bad - or worse - than drivers who have had four drinks. That's well into DUI territory for just about any driver.

Other apps abound, and are worth checking out to help drivers learn to break this terrible habit.

About the Author