When it comes to driving, cell phones get a bad rap. When mixed with carelessness, cell phones and driving are a disastrous combination. Drivers who text – or email or read the web or take pictures or even just make phone calls – are distracted…but it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, with the right tools, smartphones can actually help us to be better and safer drivers. To demonstrate that, let’s examine three safety apps for drivers.
1. Anti Sleep Pilot
For those of us who drive often, falling asleep at the wheel is a legitimate concern. According to some safety data, it’s estimated that drivers who fall asleep at the wheel cause one-fifth of all car accidents and as many as 100,000 deaths and injuries each year. The scariest aspect of this phenomenon is that many people don’t fully appreciate their personal level of tiredness until they are overly tired. In other words, at some point, you’ve likely been in danger of falling asleep at the wheel without realizing it.
The Anti Sleep Pilot app for the iPhone aims to prevent that by monitoring your fatigue levels, and then alerting you when you are at risk. It does this using the built-in GPS and accelerometer as well as its own algorithms. It even evaluates your driving habits, which allows it to base its monitoring and alerts on your tendencies. It also helps to keep you alert by requiring you to complete simple tasks as part of its operation. Overall, it’s a very cool iPhone app.
iOnRoad is a brilliant Android app that delivers augmented reality by monitoring the road ahead using the built-in camera. On the primary display, it outputs the enhanced view, which labels vehicle distances, indicates safe driving speeds and identifies other hazards. For the vehicle directly in front of you, it indicates distance and speed in order to inform you of whether or not there is enough distance to stop safely in the event of abrupt braking.
Perhaps the “safest” and neatest aspect of iOnRoad is that it can actually make comparisons. For instance, when the truck in front of you slams on the brakes, it recognizes this speed/distance change much quicker than the driver can process it. It informs you of the danger by highlighting the object and flashing the screen. The app can even run in the background, and it will “take control” of the screen in the event of an emergency.
Obviously, you need to mount your smartphone to see the road ahead. Some manufacturers like Toyota offer vehicle accessories for cell phones that allow for a dash mount, but you might have to search online to find the right mount for your car and phone.
For those of us with teenaged children, the dangers associated with driving strikes a great deal of fear into our hearts. Speedbump is an Android app that intends to allay some of that concern by monitoring our children, and then reporting to us when they’re being unsafe. None of us wants to “spy” on our children, but let’s face it, in most countries driving kills more teens than any other activity, so this is a serious matter.
Speedbump allows you to monitor speed at all times. It will alert you whenever the speed is above the legal limit or a limit that you define, and parents have immediate access to location via GPS when the teen breaks the rules. The idea here is to protect the child without invading his or her privacy when they’re behaving well. The app also has a daily report card feature that the parent can access at any time, which provides data for the last 24 hours.
Clearly, cell phones aren’t all bad. With the right apps, and a judicious approach, they can improve vehicle safety.
Author Jason Lancaster is an automotive writer working with Toyota Parts Center, a website that sells genuine parts for the Toyota Camry and other Toyota models.