As we’ve discussed on this blog before, distracted driving is an incredibly dangerous practice that puts everyone on the road at risk of having an accident. Yet many people still do not take the dangers of distracted driving seriously.
The most common type of distracted driving is the use of a cell phone. As smartphones have gotten more sophisticated over the last decade, countless functions and millions of apps have captured the attention of pretty much everyone. These days, people rely on their phones to communicate with their friends and families, provide directions, play music, inform them about the news, and much more. Unfortunately, this has made the issue of distracted driving and cell phones more important than ever before.
Remember, all drivers should take every step to minimize the number of distractions they experience while driving and focus on the road. With that said, we thought it’d be helpful to look at which apps present the greatest danger.
Distracted Driving and Cell Phones: The Most Distracting Apps for Drivers
The world of apps is incredibly fast-paced, so what was popular just a year or two ago may be ancient history today. For example, when PokémonGo first came out, it was a worldwide sensation, and many people couldn’t seem to stop attempting to catch rare or desirable Pokémon that they discovered while driving. One person in Baltimore even crashed into a police car because they were playing. Though PokémonGo has somewhat decreased in popularity since its release, it and other augmented reality games are still best avoided while driving.
Additionally, app use varies significantly by age group, and younger drivers may be more likely to use distracting apps while driving than older drivers. One example is Snapchat, which allows users to send each other pictures that delete themselves after just a few seconds, and which is vastly more popular with teenagers than with any other age group. For a while, teenagers and other young people seemed to use Snapchat at all times. The app even had a function that seemed to promote being used while driving. That function added a filter to pictures that displayed how fast the sender was currently traveling. There were several news stories of people who got into accidents while driving dangerously fast trying to get a higher number on their picture.
Fortunately, it wasn’t long before this function was removed from the app. Still, Snapchat’s story offers a good reminder not to use any apps to look at pictures, take them, or send them while behind the wheel.
While drivers may have wised up about PokémonGo and Snapchat since the release of those apps, certain apps continue to distract drivers of all ages. Keep reading to learn the most common offenders.
Perhaps the most common app that people use while they are driving is their messages app. Sending and receiving text messages may seem like a quick task, but it can actually distract a driver for a significant amount of time. When you send a text message or even read one, you’re taking your attention completely off the road and the act of driving. In that time, any number of things can happen.
Fortunately, most smartphones are now equipped with voice-to-text capabilities so that drivers can send messages hands-free. However, it’s still always best to focus on the road while you’re driving. If you absolutely have to send a text or read one, pull over to the side of the road.
Another very common type of app that distracts people while driving is navigation apps like Google Maps and Apple Maps. People often enter their destination into a navigation or maps app while they’re driving. On top of that, people will look at the directions, map, or other aspects of the app, which can be very distracting while they’re trying to drive.
While navigation apps were intended to help people drive, they’re best used in a hands-free way. Set your destination before you leave and mount your phone or navigation device somewhere that you can see it at a glance. Your phone or navigation device should never be in your hands while you are driving. Many distracted driving laws will punish you if you’re caught with your phone in your hand.
Additionally, consider always leaving voice navigation on so that you can hear the directions, which may decrease your need to even look at the map, allowing you to keep your eyes on the road.
A third type of app very commonly used while driving is music streaming apps, of which Spotify is the most popular. This makes sense, as listening to music is a common activity while driving. There is a reason cars are built with radios, after all.
But when drivers pick up their phones to choose a song, playlist, or podcast while driving, a normal app operation becomes a very dangerous activity. Like with messaging and navigation apps, interacting with music streaming apps can take a driver’s attention completely off the road for enough time to cause an accident and possibly injury or death.
In 2019, Spotify responded to the issue by introducing Car View, which was supposed to make the app easier to use while driving – but in 2021 they announced they would retire the feature. Whether or not this action will make the app more dangerous, it is a good reminder that no phone use is safe while driving; even music streaming should be hands-free whenever possible.
Contact an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney
Though the proliferation of hands-free capabilities, aided by AI features like Siri, give reason for optimism, the issue of distracted driving and cell phones unfortunately remains significant. If you’ve been in an accident with a driver who was distracted by their phone, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced auto accident attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield. With over 70 collective years of legal and trial experience, we can answer any questions you may have during the course of a free consultation.
This article was updated for accuracy in February 2022.