Apps that fight our distracted driving habits

They're not perfect solutions, but some of them can better keep you focused on the road ahead.

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Siri (iPhone 4S and later)



The built-in message manager

Image via WikiMedia

An iPhone will not automatically detect that you are driving, and it will not, by default, auto-respond or read your messages. But if you notice that a message came in, or missed a call, you can do like Jesse Thomson does and ask your phone assistant, Siri, what is up:

Drive Mode, Drive First, Safely Go (Android on AT&T, Sprint, Verizon)

Three of the big four U.S. mobile carriers offer safe driving apps, either pre-installed on their phones (and often impossible to remove), or available as a free download. AT&T has DriveMode, Sprint Drive First, and Verizon offers Safely Go (although non-Verizon Android owners can install Safely Go, too).



AT&T's DriveMode app, activated

Image via Google Play

Consumer Reports reviewed all three of these apps in January 2014, and I agree with their findings. Drive Safe is not bad, though it does take a long while to restore your phone's normal text/call behavior after it thinks you have stopped driving. Drive First takes a good amount of setup to get working the way you want. And Safely Go is a big, cartoon-ish app that does not automatically activate when you are driving. None of the apps are particularly elegant or good-looking, but the first two get the job done.

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