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3 alternatives to texting and driving

By Claes Bell ·
Monday, August 23, 2010
Posted: 2 pm ET

When you consider the financial hit you could take in higher auto insurance premiums and potential liability in the event of an accident, it doesn't make a lot of financial sense to mix cars and texting. And that's not even taking into account hefty fines you'll get in 30 states if you're spotted texting and driving by police.

Despite laws in many states and the risk of car accidents and the auto insurance hikes that go with them, people still text and drive.

Despite state laws and the risk of car accidents and resulting auto insurance hikes, people still text and drive.

But the recent death of plastic surgeon-to-the-stars Frank Ryan in a rollover crash is a reminder of just how widespread -- and dangerous -- texting and driving really is. In fact, a Car and Driver study found texting and driving impaired test drivers more than drinking and driving.

Yes, the best way to address this issue would be for people to just pull over or wait until they get out of the car to text. But if you can't put the phone down, despite your best intentions, let's take a look at some potential workarounds.

  • Voice recognition apps. While distracting yourself by reading and responding to texts is inherently dangerous, you may be able to spend less time looking at your phone and more time looking at the road by using voice recognition apps like Dragon Naturally Speaking for iPhone and Voice Actions for Android phones. Both of these apps can translate your spoken words into text and, with a few touches, send them via SMS to contacts on your phone.
  • Autoresponder apps. You know how you can set your instant messaging or e-mail to respond with a pre-written message letting people who try to contact you know where you are and why you're not answering? Well insurance provider State Farm recently added an auto responder to its Android app that allows you to automatically respond to texts in a similar manner, with something like "I'm driving right now but I'll text you back soon." No word yet on when the app is coming to iPhone.
  • Text blocking apps. If you what you're looking for isn't a way to text in the car, but a way to make sure teen drivers aren't, there's the handy Textecution app for Android. The app uses an Android phone's GPS to determine whether the teen is in a moving vehicle, and automatically disables texting if they're moving faster than 10 mph. (h/t to Consumerist). Another app for Android, iZip, provides similar functionality but carries a monthly fee.

What do you think? Are these apps a good idea or is plain old willpower more effective?

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Erik Wood
August 24, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Here is an actual tool that insurance companies are supporting to combat the text and drive epidemic. If its OK with this website, here is a link to an article just out this morning about this low cost, smartphone app solution called OTTER that insurance companies are endorsing:


Thank you for helping to raise awareness on this issue. One driver at a time can make a difference.

Erik Wood, owner