Using Your Phone Safely When Behind the Wheel
At some point, everyone gets the distinct displeasure of nearly being hit by a car drifting into their lane while the clueless other driver carried on with their phone call. While conventional wisdom dictates to avoid all phone usage when driving – especially when traveling through areas that ban driving while using hand-held phones – there are times when your phone may be a necessary evil. In these cases, ensure you know how to stay safe while using your cell phone.
Know Your Phone
A common problem for many motorists is that they don’t know how to operate every function on their phones by touch. Take some time when you’re at home to get to know all the features of your cell phone. The better you know the layout, the better able you’ll be to operate it without taking your eyes off the road.
If your phone has the ability to take voice commands, this feature can be a lifesaver when you’re on the road. Of course, this is only helpful if your phone can understand what you’re saying. Try to set aside a little extra time to use the voice recognition feature when you can give your phone your full attention. Learning how to speak in a way your phone understands can save you a lot of frustration while driving.
Manage the Conversation
Remember, not all phone conversations are created equal. Letting someone know that you have the bake sale brownies and will be there in 10 minutes takes a lot less concentration than trying to give emotional support to a friend going through a rough patch. The same is true with arguments. These types of conversations deserve the type of attention you can only provide when you don’t have a sea of brake lights ahead to deal with.
It’s also a good idea to put off conversations that will require you to write down or look up pieces of information. There’s nothing wrong with telling the person on the other end of the line that you aren’t in a place where you can have the conversation and will call them back later. This is also completely acceptable to say if traffic patterns or the weather changes abruptly in the middle of your call and you need to devote all your attention to safe driving.
If your phone allows for hands-free talking, consider using it. It can be especially useful for people who don’t always have a free hand to hold the phone with because of their manual transmission. Cradling your phone between your shoulder and your ear even for a few seconds can change your perspective on the road and may be problematic.
Hands-free isn’t just useful for phone conversations. If you regularly use the map features on your phone, you may have to look at your phone just as frequently as you would a paper map. Allowing your phone to talk you through the directions can provide you with a safer driving experience because you won’t have to take your eyes off the road. If your phone doesn’t have GPS or virtual maps, buying a GPS unit for your vehicle could be another solution.