I drive. I drive a lot. My daily commute is a minimum of 40 minutes on the road. Outside of that I drive for hours on end in at least 3 different states and DC. All told my car has over 200,000 miles on it and I average around 2500 to 3000 miles a month. So this morning it wasn’t too much of a surprise when someone, who had a text-induced fender bender yesterday, asked me how I manage texting and driving.
Even though 2 of the primary states (and DC) I drive in have at least a no-texting law, this unfortunately was/is one of my worst habits. I have a deep love of technology and while I’ve curbed most of my phone/driving bad habits, I had actually just done some searching for an app to help manage the rest. Currently I’m in only in deep like with iPhone, as we’ve had a falling out recently. Let me explain what happened to my apple crush collapsing – I wanted an app to help manage text messages while I drive.
Here’s what I wanted:
1) an app that I could set up an autoresponse to go back to people who text me while I’m driving
2) bonus points if I could tell it not to response to automated text alerts like Twitter and the dc metro updates
3) super bonus points if I could set up messages that would inform specific people when I hit certain points in my travels (example – I hit a certain location and it autosends “I’m 15 minutes away”, etc).
So there was nothing that did the #3 as far as I could tell but 1 and 2 seemed options. Except I have an IPHONE. For the first time ever, my iphone love affair was coming back to bite in me the bottom. I really thought it was just me so I imessaged two other iphone app junkies. And both told me – nope, I wasn’t missing it – there wasn’t an app for that.
Seriously, Apple?? The one person mentioned that it was part of the reason they had ditched the coveted iphone 5s for a Samsung. The other person proceeded to lecture me that I needed more self control to not text so much – and that maybe I needed to upgrade my 4 to at least a 4s to get Siri and some handsfree. Don’t snark, yes I still have a 4 and am Siri-less.
But I didn’t want an app to read my messages for me – I am trying to wean myself down a little bit from technology. (insert still bad habits I’m trying to break) I wanted an app that would do two things for me – tell people I’m traveling and get back to them (think of it as text voice mail) and if possible give them a heads up I was nearly there and making safe progress (this is just a nice to have).
Sadly iPhone – you won’t do any of that for me. I’m disappointed. The best solution anyone could come up with is to at least keep the phone from distracting me by setting it to Do Not Disturb mode. It silences all alerts and I can let calls come in from everyone or just favorites, etc. – basically allowing for someone to reach me in an emergency.
Now – if you happen to be a non-iPhone user (and as I look at phone upgrades I may join your ranks) – you have options and lots of them. Some of the apps will actually reward you for not texting and driving – like DriveAlive (note – it doesn’t block texts or auto respond, it simply keeps track of phone-free trips). Others are free but charge for some options like DriveSafe.ly. AT&T has, to go along with their It Can Wait Campaign, a *free app DriveMode (guess what I have AT&T, guess what else – can’t use it with my iphone).
Several other charge monthly fees – and I’m not sure how I feel about this. I understand the need to make money and manage costs and ultimately it is the responsibility of all of us to act like grown ups and resist the urge to text and drive – but this is public safety. To be fair, most of these seem to be designed for parents of teenagers who are looking for extra insurance that our newly licensed drivers are developing good habits.
As for the rest of us more experienced drivers, if you have an iPhone – bad news – there’s not really an app for that. Hey, maybe we should consider ourselves a bit lucky. Without the app to support us – we can call it a “growth opportunity” to be a better person and put our phones away while driving. Then we concentrate more fully on questioning the intelligence of the driver in front of us (IT’S CALLED A TURN SIGNAL, USE IT!!!).