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06.09.2017 | Technology

Best Hands-Free Apps

Ontario drivers are no strangers to the frustration of sitting in traffic. Whether it’s your daily commute across the 401 or during your weekend trek up highway 400 to cottage country, you’ve likely been stuck in your car at some point, dreaming of the days when we each have our own personal spacecrafts. The slow pace of high volume traffic can be the most tempting time to pick up your smartphone while driving. However, operating your smartphone while driving is illegal and if caught, you can be charged with distracted driving. Remember, going hands-free from your device is the law. A distracted driving offence comes with a fine of $490 and 3 demerit points. And, if you endanger others while distracted driving, you could be charged with the criminal offense of Careless Driving.

With Ontario roadways becoming increasingly busy each year, we’ve gathered a list of the best hands-free gadgets and apps to help combat your traffic woes. With these tech tips, you can have a speedy and comfortable commute without putting your driving record or safety at risk.

Waze

Travelling off the beaten path can help save you hours behind the wheel each week and Waze is the perfect smartphone application to help you find the fastest route. Available on iOS and Android devices, Waze helps you avoid traffic, road closures and hazards easily. Information on the application is updated live by Waze’s broad reach of contributing users and best of all, it’s completely free. Waze even helps you plan stops for gas and food along the way. The app will also warn you if you’re travelling faster than the local speed limits and when you park your car, Waze will remember where your vehicle is located.

Just don’t try to use the application while you are driving. If you do, you’ll get a notification reminding you to keep you hands on the wheel. Remember, distracted driving is a serious offence. So, set your route up in Waze before you hit the road and keep your hands on the wheel until you arrive at your destination. Waze even provides voice navigation and alerts so that you can keep your eyes on the road and focus on driving.

Dash

Dash is an increasingly popular application that connects your smartphone to your vehicle via an on board diagnostics reader (OBD). The application is available on iOS or Android and is free to download.

A reader plugs into your vehicle’s OBD port and connects via Bluetooth to the Dash application on your smartphone. Dash then reads the information received from the OBD device to give you insight into your vehicle diagnostics, help you reduce fuel consumption while improving your driving habits and can even alert 911 in the event of an collision. If you’re a high risk driver, Dash can help you improve your driving habits to lower your risk of a driving infraction or accident.

IFTTT

IFTTT (If This, Then That) is a clever application that turns your smartphone into a personal assistant. By creating “recipes” in IFTTT you can get applications on your phone to work harder for you while you’re behind the wheel.

IFTTT works by triggering actions based on the functionality of a variety of compatible applications and smartphone functionality. You can easily create smart recipes to set up notifications that can alert your friend that you’ll be arriving late when stuck in traffic or to automatically respond to texts you receive while driving. And, when you connect IFTTT with the power of Dash, you can log your Dash driving scores to monitor your driving habits, log your trips and even alert your phone to reject calls when you are driving.

Voice Notifications for iOS & Android

With the mass adoption of smartphones, distracted driving offenses are on the rise in Ontario. Avoid a costly mistake and keep your hands on the wheel by leveraging the power of a voice notifications app for your smart device.

On Android, one of the top notification reading apps is called Shouter. When enabled, Shouter will read any notifications you receive during your commute, allowing you to keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

For iOS devices, the best way to do go hands-free is via Siri. When you hear a notification, you can ask Siri to read your notifications by enabling “Hey Siri” and asking “Do I have any notifications?”. From there, Siri will read aloud any notifications and messages you have including missed calls, app messages and more. You can even ask Siri to respond to messages you have received. Using these powerful voice activated tools is a great way to avoid distracted driving.

Vent Clip Phone Mounts

Keeping your hands on the wheel is an important part of safe driving and avoiding tickets that can impact your insurance rates. Cheaper than permanent solutions, vent clip mounts are perfect for the budget conscious driver looking to go hands-free from their mobile device. Another great benefit to vent clip mounts is that they don’t require adhesive or screws for mounting. That means, you’re not left with an unsightly mess if you decide to remove the phone mount later on. Vent clip mounts also tend to be more secure than suction cup mounts which can become ineffective over time. Available at most big box retailers across the province, they’re the perfect hands-free solution for savvy drivers.

While it is legal to use a secured hands-free device in Ontario, the best way to prevent an accident is to avoid any interaction with your device while driving. Research by the University of Sussex has shown that even just the mental distraction of answering a hands-free call or text can increase your risk of an accident. Therefore, it’s best to limit your hands-free use to directions and use the power of your smartphone to handle your calls and texts while you focus on driving.

Visit the Ontario Ministry of Transportation's website to learn more about distracted driving.


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