Smartphone on the Road: Five Apps That Can Make Your Teen a Better Driver

Guest Post by Cynthia Tyson. Cynthia is a stay-at-home mom with a background in social media and public relations.

You don’t often see the words “smartphone,” “teen,” and “driving” all in the same sentence. At least, not in a positive way. As much as smartphones can be detrimental to safety on the road, they can also help teens become better and safer drivers in the long run. So, if you want to bribe your teen into safer driving, make sure he or she downloads the following apps before you even think about looking at used cars for the holidays.Photo for Apps

1. Drive Safe.ly (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows – Free)

This handy mobile app helps prevent distracted driving by reading text messages and emails aloud in real time. Drive Safe.ly even responds automatically to these messages without drivers having to even touch the phone. These automated messages can be customized according to different needs, so teens can write messages like “On the way!” for specific text senders. One-touch activation makes setup a breeze, while a flexible design ensures compatibility with Bluetooth and radio transmitters.

2. Drive Safe Mode (iOS, Android – Free)

Using special sensory technology to detect the movement of the car, Drive Safe Mode turns off all alerts to eliminate distractions completely. No more reminding your teen to turn off her phone or put it in the backseat. Drive Safe Mode literally puts his phone on lockdown and even sends out alerts and reports if the user tries to disable the lock. Now you can be sure your rules are enforced even after he pulls out of the driveway. Even while driving, the app allows emergency calls to 911 and Mom and Dad just in case.

3. DriveScribe (iOS, Android – Free)

Perfect for new drivers, DriveScribe can be your teen’s personal driving instructor when you’re not in the car. The app monitors speed, blocks texts and calls, and delivers real-time voice feedback to improve your teen’s driving. The driver will not only receive an alert about driving mistakes but also designated friends or family members via text message and/or email. Mistakes can include excessive speed, running a stop sign and hard braking. After each driving session, data is stored, monitored and analyzed in comprehensive metrics that make it easier to gauge progress.

4. CarSafe (Android – Free)

Developed by researchers from Dartmouth’s Smartphone Sensing Group, CarSafe is a high-tech app that uses dual-camera, motion-sensing power to detect risky driving behaviors like distraction and drowsiness. The front camera records data about the driver, while the back camera keeps track of environmental conditions. After analyzing this data, the app will alert the driver about these risks with screen icons and audible warnings. Risky behavior ranges from tired eyes to a too-close proximity to the car ahead.

5. Steer Clear (iOS, Android – Free)

State Farm created the Steer Clear mobile app as part of a program for reinforcing positive driving behavior for young drivers. Drivers under age 25 can complete the Steer Clear Safe Driver Discount Program to earn discounts on State Farm auto insurance, so safe driving can literally pay off. The app logs driving experiences and offers tips for safer driving in varying weather conditions. Teens can even use the app to watch videos and learn from the experiences of other drivers. A built-in Find an Agent feature also makes it easy to contact your State Farm Agent for general questions or to make a claim.

Skype – A Better Telephone?

Image of Skyper's Logo
Skype logo
Skype logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the ubiquitous presence of cell phones the need for traditional landlines seems to be drastically decreasing and many individuals and families are choosing to abandon landlines altogether for only cellular service. Still, cell phones aren’t a perfect solution. They generally are fairly expensive on a per minute conversation basis, have high roaming charges, and reception isn’t always amazing.

For me, Skype is and has been a service of great use – allowing me to move to cell-only, losing the landline, but at the same time keeping an inexpensive and constantly available alternative. Skype at its most basic is a free chat application – allowing users to converse via voice, video, and text. Where it passes far beyond many of its competitors is in its ability to call out to traditional phones (landlines and cells) and to receive calls from the same.

Skype offers all of this at drastically low prices. $2.95/mo. will let you call unlimited anywhere in the U.S. and Canada and $12.95/mo. will let you call unlimited to forty countries around the world. Add $60/yr. onto this and you get inbound calls with your own traditional phone number. Finally, dump on voicemail for another $20/yr. All told you are paying $116/yr. for unlimited calls within the U.S. and Canada!

And Skype will travel with you. Going on a vacation? Business trip? If you have your laptop and a internet connection you can make calls with your Skype.

Skype also offers a number of advanced features for businesses and individuals – such as normal phones that use Skype – offering traditional phone convenience without the need to use a computer (though they shouldn’t be used for emergency 911 calls). A whole ecosystem of products has grown around Skype – some of them quite advanced and feature-filled.

Take a look at Skype. Its free. If you want some of the premium features – it does cost, but they won’t trick you into buying anything and if you do buy a subscription from them its amazingly reasonable.