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Car Insurance

12 tips to avoid texting and driving

Using a phone while operating a vehicle makes it four times more likely that you’ll get into an accident. So why do people still do it? Read our list of tips and apps to stay focused on the road.

In the 21st century, we are obsessed with sharing at the speed of text. Whether it’s a perfectly contoured selfie, a screaming goat vine, or the latest hot goss at school, our smartphones give us the power to share at any given moment. And while there are unwritten rules about what you can share (no one cares about what you made for dinner, Karen), there seems to be little etiquette around when you should share. When our phones are always in our pocket, we expect responses and reactions fast and this expectation causes us to be on our phones at inopportune times, like in class or behind the wheel. The Center for Disease Control reports that everyday nine people are killed in a car accident caused by distracted driving, which includes using a cell phone or eating. If you’re wondering how this number could be so high, it’s because using a phone while operating a vehicle makes it four times more likely for you to get into an accident. So then why do people still do it?

Texting while driving is illegal in every state in the U.S. except for Arizona, Montana, Texas, and Missouri. While this kind of distracted driving is legal in these four states, they do enforce some limits on exactly who is allowed to take the wheel and phone. For example, in Texas you can’t text and drive if you’re under the age of 18 or if you’re a bus driver. And in Missouri, it’s illegal if you’re under the age of 21. While these specific laws are aimed at the highest risk driver, an inexperienced teen who believes they’re invincible, laws only truly affect people if they’re caught or have been in a serious accident. In states where it’s illegal, drivers who are caught can be penalized with monetary fines, criminal charges, jail time, points on their driving record, and possible license suspension. This non-uniformed rhetoric across the United States about the dangers of texting and driving has lead to a lack of awareness that extends far beyond teenage years. When children and teens see their parents or guardians on their phone while driving, it creates the illusion that it’s a safe practice for experienced and skilled drivers. In reality, it isn’t safe for anyone. While it’s important for governments to hold a zero tolerance stance against distracted driving, it’s even more important for each individual to hold themselves and their passengers responsible for putting away the phone and lowering the statistics.

Tips to avoid texting and driving:

  1. Make a habit of thinking of any messages you need to send or navigation apps you need to start before you start driving. Once they’re all set, put the phone out of reach.

  2. Turn your cell phone on silent or completely off

  3. Keep your cell phone in a purse or bag in the back seat

  4. If you have passenger(s), allow them to be your designated phone operator

  5. If you can’t wait to answer a text, make a phone call, or look at a notification, pull over in a safe area and deal with it before getting back on the road

  6. If you're riding with someone who is texting while driving, say something! Let them know that it makes you uncomfortable and offer to handle the phone for them

If you don’t think you can exercise the self control needed to ignore your smartphone while driving, there are many free apps that will disable text, email, and other app functions for you. Some are made specifically for parental control while others require you to enable the app yourself once you get behind the wheel.

Apps that block texting and driving:

  1. Cellcontrol (Android and iOS) a subscription based service made for parents of teen drivers. Cellcontrol features a device that can be attached under the dashboard and an accompanying app. The device blocks the driver from performing certain functions on their smartphone, like sending and receiving text messages and accessing emails and the camera. With the accompanying app, parents will receive text or email alerts if the device has been damaged or removed.

  2. Drive Safe Mode (Android and iOS) is an app designed for parents with teenage driver(s). This app requires more transparency between parent and child because the app must be downloaded on the child’s phone. It blocks texting and emailing while operating a vehicle. It notifies parents when the phone is in use or if the app has been turned off or deleted while on the road.

  3. Live2Txt (Android) is an app that allows you to block text messages, phone calls, and other notifications while you’re driving. Simply turn it on when you get in your vehicle and a custom message will be sent to whoever is trying to reach you explaining that you can’t talk at the moment.

  4. SafeDrive (Android and iOS) is an app the rewards you with discount points towards participating stores when you avoid texting and driving. Points are calculated by measuring distance traveled, average speed, and time spent in traffic. The app starts counting points once you’re traveling over 6mph.

  5. Drivesafe.ly (Android) is an app that features hands-free phone interaction. The app will read aloud any text, email, or notification and allow you to set an auto response.

  6. DriveOFF (Android) is an app created by car insurance company Esure that blocks text,email, and app functions when your vehicle is going over 10mph. The app features a static screen so there is absolutely nothing to distract you from driving.

Unfortunately, despite your efforts to stay off your phone, you can still be a victim of a distracted driving accident. Your safety should be your only concern. Let your auto insurance handle your medical and property damage expenses so make sure you have the appropriate coverage. If you don’t have enough coverage or you’re hoping to switch providers, use a quote comparison site like Insurify.com. Insurify allows you to customize, build, compare, and purchase your policy online in minutes from the top providers. Professional and experienced agents are available for advice every step of the way!