March 15, 2024

New Apps Aim to Stop Texting While Driving

Eyes on the Road: Tech Tools to Prevent Distracted Driving in Hillsboro

Picture this: You're cruising down Cornell Road, enjoying a sunny Hillsboro afternoon. Suddenly, the car in front of you swerves, nearly sideswiping you. You slam the brakes and glance over – the driver's face is buried in their phone. We've all been there, whether as the nearly-hit driver or the guilty one checking a text at a stoplight.

Today's post is all about trying to give useful information to our community. This is part of our core mission of providing compassionate advocacy.

Distracted driving is terrifyingly common, and yes, it's illegal in Oregon. But as an attorney, I know laws and fines alone aren't enough. Our brains are hardwired to crave that buzz from our phones, even when it risks our lives and the lives of others. It's a scary battle of willpower, and willpower doesn't always win.

That's where these apps come in. Think of them as your sidekick in creating safer driving habits. They can block notifications, send those "I'm driving!" auto-replies, and help you resist the temptation to glance at your screen.

Why Apps Can Help

Let's be honest – when your phone lights up, it's incredibly hard to ignore. That's the power of those notifications, designed to hook our attention. Apps act as a buffer, letting you focus on what's truly important – the road.

The Battle Against Our Own Brains: Our phones aren't just gadgets – they're expertly designed to hijack our attention. Every notification, every like, every new message triggers a little dopamine rush in our brains. That's the same reward chemical involved in addiction. When we're driving, that dopamine rush competes with our need to focus on the road. It's not just about willpower; it's a literal battle with our own brain chemistry.

Apps: Your Digital Safeguard: This is where apps step in. They can't change how our brains are wired, but they create a barrier between us and our phones when it matters most. They help silence those tempting dings, so we can regain control behind the wheel.

Okay, enough about brain science. Let's dive into the kinds of features that make these apps effective...

App Features to Look For

Features for a Smoother Ride: You wouldn't buy a car without the right features, and the same goes for these apps! Here are the most helpful ones:

  • No-Fuss Activation: The best apps detect when your car is in motion and switch to their driving mode automatically. No more fumbling with settings while you should be focused on the road.
  • Distraction Shield: Look for apps that block those incoming calls, texts, and any app notifications that can tempt you to pick up your phone.
  • "Leave Me Alone, I'm Driving": Customizable auto-replies let your friends and family know you're behind the wheel. This takes away the pressure to respond instantly and helps you stay focused.
  • Passenger-Friendly: Essential if you carpool or have others use your car! Apps should have a way to easily disable the distraction-blocking when you're not the driver.
  • Peace of Mind for Parents: If you have a teen driver, look for apps with features like driving reports, speed alerts, and even location tracking. These can give a whole new level of insight (and maybe lead to some important conversations!)

Your Road Safety Toolkit: App Picks

Choosing the right app depends on your needs and budget. Here's a quick breakdown of some popular options:

  • LifeSaver: A tried-and-true favorite. Offers distraction blocking, auto-replies, and rewards for safe driving streaks. (Free with optional premium features)
  • TrueMotion: Great if you like data! Tracks your driving habits alongside distraction blocking, providing detailed reports on your speed, braking, etc. (Free with optional premium features)
  • DriveMode: A reliable choice if you want a simple interface. Focuses on automatic activation and "I'm driving" replies. (Free)
  • CellControl: For serious tech-blocking. Can physically disable phone use in moving vehicles. Popular with parents and companies managing fleets. (Paid subscription)

Portland Tip: Check out TriMet, our public transit agency. They sometimes partner with specific distracted driving apps and may even offer incentives for using them!

Important Note: App stores are always adding new options. Do some research to see the latest and what features fit your lifestyle!

Apps are Powerful, But Not Perfect

It's important to be realistic: while these apps are a fantastic tool, they're not a replacement for overall safe driving habits. Think of them as an extra layer of protection. Here's what else you need to do:

  • Preparation is Key: Before you even turn on the car, set your navigation, choose your music or podcasts, and handle any urgent calls or texts. This minimizes the temptation to touch your phone mid-trip.
  • Your Phone Has Safeguards Too: Most smartphones now have a built-in "Do Not Disturb While Driving" mode. Activate it! It can often automatically sense when you're in a car and silence those distractions.
  • When in Doubt, Pull over to Pull Out: If you absolutely MUST take a call or check something on your phone, find a safe place to pull over first. No message is worth risking your life or someone else's.

Let's Make Hillsboro's Roads Safer, One Driver at a Time

Distracted driving isn't just a statistic – it's a real threat on our Hillsboro streets. From Sunset to TV Highway, we've all seen the close calls and the tragic consequences. But I truly believe we can change this.

These apps aren't a magic solution, but they're a powerful tool for building safer habits. Every time you choose to download an app and use it, you're not just protecting yourself – you're making a difference for everyone on the road.

So, here's my challenge to you:

  • Download an app today. It only takes a few minutes!
  • Tell your friends, your family, your neighbors, and your coworkers about these tools. Spread the word!

Together, we can make distracted driving a thing of the past in our Hillsboro community.

Your Questions Answered

Personal Injury consultations are free and come with no obligation. Request yours now.
(971) 205-3266
1323 NE Orenco Station Pkwy
Suite #210
Hillsboro, OR 97124


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