There’s no getting around it: Texting while driving is dangerous, often deadly.
But with our constant need to check email and respond to messages, it’s also a hard habit to kick. Many of us are like Pavlov’s dogs when we hear that ping indicating we have a new message. We’re conditioned to look. And when we do, we take our eyes off the road.
That kind of distraction, even for just a second, can lead to an accident when you’re driving a car.
According to the National Safety Council, 3,000 people die in distracted driving crashes every year. Yet, 70 percent of drivers admit to using their phones while driving despite knowing the risk.
There are options to help limit your phone usage while driving:
- If you have an iPhone and you’ve upgraded to the iOS 11 operating system, you can activate the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature to turn off texting and other distracting apps while you’re behind the wheel.
When the feature is enabled, the phone will prevent notifications when it connects to your car via Bluetooth or when it senses driving motion. Here’s how to set up the feature, according to Apple:
Go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls.
Tap Add control to Control Center next to Do Not Disturb While Driving.
While Do Not Disturb while Driving is activated, you will be able to use map and navigation apps, although you won’t be able to input a destination while in motion. Passengers who want to use their iPhone in the car can disable the feature by indicating you’re not driving.
- If you have a teen driver, you can set up a restriction that prevents them from turning off the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. Here’s how to do it:
On your child’s iPhone, go to Settings > General > Restrictions.
If you haven’t used Restrictions before, enter a new passcode. Remember this passcode for any future changes.
Under Allow Changes, tap Do Not Disturb While Driving.
Select Don’t Allow Changes.
- You can also take a low-tech approach to distracted driving by turning off your phone when you get in the car or even putting it in the trunk. However, that can be problematic if you use your phone for navigation or if you need it to make an emergency call.
- You can also sign a pledge to be an attentive driver and follow this checklist from End Distracted Driving whenever you get behind the wheel.
- Drive without reading or sending texts, snapchatting, using the internet, Facebook or social media of any kind.
- Call/text before I start driving to let parents, friends and others know when I’ll arrive.
- Wait to text or call others until they have stopped driving.
- Pull over to a safe location to check texts, social media, or listen to voice mail.
- Deputize my passenger when I am driving to text or make calls for me.
- When alone, turn my cell phone off before starting to drive.
- Stop texting, or end phone conversations with others once I learn they are driving.
- Pull over to a safe location or wait until I am finished driving to eat or apply make-up.
- Pull over to a safe location or wait until I am finished driving to adjust music on a phone or similar devices.
- When being driven by a distracted driver ask the driver to drive safer.
- As a passenger, share the responsibility for arriving safely with my driver and offer help so my driver does not drive distracted.
You can download a printable version of this checklist from End Distracted Driving
Car and phone manufacturers are recognizing the danger of distracted driving, including texting while driving, and they’re developing technology to block the practice. According to CNN, Nissan has proposed adding built-in boxes to its cars to that would block radio transmissions of any kind from reaching phones.
Technology to prevent texting while driving does exist. USA Today reviewed the best apps to prevent distracted driving, including one that lets you earn points you can cash in at the gas station and other retailers.