10 apps to save you from yourself behind the wheel

If you can't leave your phone alone while driving, these solutions might help

driving apps
Hey, watch the road!

It's almost inevitable these days – whenever you get cut off in traffic, or nearly struck by someone running a red light, or stuck behind somebody camped out at a green light, it's as likely as not that the culprit was, or frequently still is, buried in his or her phone. To help you avoid being this awful person, here's a selection of helpful tools.

QuietZone
QuietZone (Android)

This Florida-based company makes a box that you can install in a car that will instruct smartphones within its area of effect to shut down their SMS capabilities. A bit expensive at $329 (the app itself is free), we don't quite understand what you get out of this that you can't get out of other offerings for free, though the idea of a static installation is kind of interesting.

DriveScribe
DriveScribe (Android/iOS)

If you're particularly susceptible to gamification and gaining little rewards for driving safely, DriveScribe is a good place to start.

Tasker (Android)
Tasker (Android)

Tasker is a flexible piece of automation software for Android, allowing users to program their devices in a huge array of different ways. Relatively speaking, setting it up to prohibit call or text activity when on the road should be child's play.

App4Drivers! (iOS)
Credit: App Store
App4Drivers! (iOS)

This iOS app, designed for parents of teen drivers, tracks measurements like cornering speed and acceleration, records call and text activity and can even beep and buzz to alert young motorists when they are approaching predetermined safety limits. Like having your dad in your pocket, minus the frequent explanations of automobile-related physics.

CarSafe (not yet available)
Credit: Dartmouth College
CarSafe (not yet available)

The idea with CarSafe is to combine input from both front- and rear-mounted cameras to detect when drivers are drowsy or distracted – while the rear-mounted camera monitors lane markings to see if you're drifting, the other tracks your face, head position and blink rate to see if you're overly tired or distracted. Sadly, it's still on the drawing board.

ORIGO
ORIGO

If you REALLY can't keep your hands off of your phone, your best bet may be to install an actual safe for it in the car. The ORIGO also charges your phone while protecting you from your worst impulses.

Not While Driving (BlackBerry)
Not While Driving (BlackBerry)

Since we wouldn't want to leave out the BlackBerry users among us, here's Not While Driving app, which locks down your device while in the car, but provides an override option – which can be set to notify your parents, young man or young lady.

iOnRoad Augmented Driving Pro (Android and iOS)
Credit: Google Play
iOnRoad Augmented Driving Pro (Android and iOS)

This impressive app uses your phone's camera to map objects in front of you, calculating stopping distances and dangerous proximity alerts, among a host of other features.

Detext (Android)
Detext (Android)

Fun for the whole family, this in-depth system lets you monitor several devices for driving habits and style, as well as lock them down remotely.

Safe Driving Text Machine (Android)
Credit: Google Play
Safe Driving Text Machine (Android)

Despite the name that makes it sound like an imperfectly translated B-movie title, Safe Driving Text Machine is a simple, lightweight app that automatically detects when you're driving, and can be set to send an “I'm in the car, talk later” automated response.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.