Ten Ways To Break Your Texting While Driving Habit

by Hank Coleman

Simulator 6Distracted driving is 100% preventable. At the core of the issue is texting while driving. Distracted driving killed 3,092 people nationwide and injured approximately 416,000 in 2010. America is addicted to texting while driving. It is proving to be a hard habit to break.

But, there are ways that you can can work to break your texting while driving habit. As you drive, consider when you become bored behind the wheel and inattentive. Try to take notice when you pick up the phone to start texting, surfing the web, or updating your Facebook status. You may not even realize that you are doing it because it has become second nature. Once you realize that you are engaging in activities that can distract you when you are behind the wheel, you can take steps to avoid those distrcations and break the habit of texting while driving.

Here are ten tips that can help you break the habit of texting while driving…

Give Your Phone To Your Kids

My two boys are always clamoring to use my smartphone while we are in the car. They always wants to play Angry Birds or some other game. Normally my wife and I tell them no or make them watch a movie instead. But, the other day I realized that I can’t text while driving while they have the phone in their hot little hands. So, if you want to break your habit of texting while driving, it may be a good idea to simply give the phone to those cute little monsters in the backseat.

Use Apps To Curb Your Texting While Driving Habit

“Luckily, there are a multitude of applications available for Android and BlackBerry phones that disable the phone while it’s in motion, except for emergency calls. Make sure the one you choose works automatically so your teen doesn’t “forget” to turn it on. It should provide you with feedback so you know it’s working: an email or text message when it’s disabled and a notification when a “violation” has occurred,” said  columnist and CEO of Nerds On Call, an on-site computer and laptop repair service company.

“Most allow you to set an automated text reply, such as “I am driving right now; I’ll get back with you shortly” while nothing appears on your child’s phone. Some even have emergency tracking so you can find your child with the phone’s GPS.”

There are an incredible amount of applications for your smartphone that will help you curb your addiction to texting while driving and the addiction in your children as well, and there are more apps coming out everyday. Here are just a few apps that can help you…

DriveSafe.ly offers a free application for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry phones. It reads your text messages and emails aloud, hands-free, is Bluetooth compatible and has a customizable auto-responder. It’ll read up to 50 words per message for free, or upgrade to Pro for $13.95/year to hear up to 500 words per message.

PhoneGuard’s DriveSafe free app for Android and BlackBerry disables your phone’s keyboard when GPS tracking determines that the phone is traveling faster than 10 mph, includes custom text auto reply, and can notify the administrator if set speed parameters are not met. There is an iPhone version, but it just reminds you not to text — third-party iPhone apps can’t block incoming texts or block the use of the device, so it’s not likely to be as effective

Once plugged in to your car’s OBDII port (under your steering wheel), the Key2SafeDriving ( $70.95) can be paired with all of your phones to disable phone functionality while the car ignition is engaged, allowing only Bluetooth-enabled services and emergency calls. Incoming calls are routed to voice mail and texters receive an automated message that the user is driving. Tamperproof design sends a text message to the parent if the child tries to circumvent the device. Because it doesn’t run off the phone’s GPS, you’ll save some battery life on your phone.

Safely Go app from Location Labs is a free app that helps drivers of all ages stay focused on what’s important: driving safely. Most people find it difficult to stay focused on the road while their cell phone tempts them. The app works by locking the phone and informing those who call or text that you are on the road driving safely, through automatic text replies. Safely Go also limits access to apps while driving.

TXT ME L8R is another app that will block you or your loved one from texting. At a selected “texting speed limit” while the phone is moving, the TXT ME L8R app will block the phone’s ability to send or receive text messages or use any of the apps on the phone. If the phone is moving and a text message has been sent to the phone because of TXT ME L8R the driver will not know that he/she has received a text message. Conversely, the TXT ME L8R app will auto-reply back to the sender “TXT ME L8R – I am Driving”. Also, all in-coming phone calls will go straight to voice mail.

TeliApp is currently working on an application which would allow parents to see if their children are texting while driving by monitoring the motion of the phone while a text it being written.

Free Traffic Safety Programs

Distractology 101

Arbella Insurance has been sponsoring an anti-texting while driving program in New England. It’s called Distractology and gives new drivers a first-hand look at just how dangerous it is to text and drive. The campaign features a 36-foot-long, neon-yellow mobile classroom outfitted with high-tech driving simulators. During the training, teens and other new drivers face a number of scenarios based on real-world examples, educating participants on how to anticipate hidden hazards, react to the road and avoid accidents. Participants also complete the online portion of the curriculum at DistractU.com and make a safe-driving pledge in order to complete the training.

The National Road Safety Foundation, a non-profit group, develops videos and classroom materials that deal with various traffic safety issues. Their most recent, Generation tXt, is about teens and texting while driving. The Foundation distributes all of its materials free of charge to anyone who asks. Generation tXt is a new teen tool built around a fast-paced 11-minute film that features teens talking to their peers about distracted driving. Three modules, each approximately 3-1/2 minutes long, look at what is distracted driving, and tells personal stories of a crash survivor and friends and classmates of another young person who was killed. The film also shows an example of positive action by students to address the problem at a high school. Anyone who wants to view it or download it can do so free of charge at the nrsf.org website. Or, if you prefer an actual DVD of the program, the National Road Safety Foundation will send copies out free of charge on request. It’s also available in bulk quantities for teachers, police, and safety officials.

Let Your Friends Check Your Text Messages

Christian from VeteransUnited recommended giving your phone to your friend or passenger to check for you. “I’ll often hear my phone go off while driving and hand it to my passenger to read my text and sometimes even respond if it’s urgent. Plus, it’s funny to see my friends figure out how to text on my old phone,” he said. The National Road Safety Foundation calls it “designated texting”. Cool term! I like it!

Lock Your Phone In Your Trunk

Another thing that you can do to keep your phone away from you while you drive is to put it in your trunk if your car has one. I can remember putting my phone in my luggage in my trunk. It was one of the quietest and most peaceful drives that I have had in a long while. When you seriously think about it, there are very few phone calls or text messages if any that you need to take right away that cannot wait until your car trip is over and you have reached your destination or a stopping point.

Get A Book On Tape

Mary Kelly the author of 15 Ways To Grow Your Business In Every Economy recommends using books on tape instead of texting while driving. “Get some books on tape that will help you focus on other aspects of business instead of making business calls from behind the wheel. Give yourself some training while you drive. You are still “working” but you are not being dangerous to others,” says Kelly.

Turn Your Phone Off

Another great way to break your texting while driving habit is to simply turn off your phone. You won’t hear the phone buzz or ring with phone calls or text messages, and it will not tempt you to text while driving. “It is important to simply commit to not reading or sending any text messages while driving. Understand that few things are so important that they can’t wait until you reach your destination. If you’re expecting an important text while you’re driving and you hear that you just received one, pull over to read and respond. If you don’t trust yourself to honor this commitment, you can always simply turn off your cell phone whenever you get behind the wheel,” said Andrew Schrage from Money Crashers.

Put Your Phone Deep In Your Pocket

Stick your cell phone deep into your front pocket where you cannot reach it very easily, and this tip works great. Don’t have your phone sitting on the seat next to you. The harder it is to reach will help you to be less tempted to text while you drive your car.

Let Siri Read Your Texts

Let your smartphone read your texts to you. Apple’s Siri app is getting smarter every day when people use it more. It can be a great advantage to you and will read your text messages to you. When you combine Siri or the equivalent reading your text messages with bluetooth technology in your car through either an earpiece or your car’s radio, it is much safer than texting while driving.

Drink Coffee Instead Of Texting

There are tons of things that you can do with your time instead of texting while driving. And, drinking coffee is of course one of my favorites. Keep busy in the car with your hands instead of texting while driving.

Texting While Driving – Proximity Plays A Big Role

There was a great blog post on the Harvard Business Review that talked about how to change our behavior. The article talked about how our environments do not support what we want to accomplish and directly lead to our negative actions. A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that the closer teens live to places where alcohol is sold, the greater likelihood they will binge drink and drive under the influence.Parents, schools, and television ads tell teens not to drink. There are laws that prohibits teens from drinking and prohibits liquor stores from selling to teens. But, if the liquor store is within walking distance of where the teens live, studies have show that they will be far more likely to drink. Proximity has a role.

The same is true for the proximity that your cell phone is to you while your driving plays a role when you are drawn to texting while driving. “It is important to communicate that people can and do die at the hands of inattentive drivers every day. Texting, especially on today’s touch screen phones, requires focus, taking one’s eyes of the road for seconds at a time, far longer than it takes for an accident to occur,” says Christina Kugal of TeliApp which builds smartphone apps for mobile devices.

Distracted driving is 100% preventable. You can break the texting while driving habit that has infected American drivers of all ages. As you drive, focus on when you reach for your cell phone. Once you recognize activities that distract you, you can take steps to avoid them. These tips listed above can also help you stay alert and safe behind the wheel.

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and is currently pursuing his Certified Financial Planner credentials. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.


Hank Coleman has written 524 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

TB at BlueCollarWorkman

I used to be bad about this, but I finally decided to get an app that does the automatic text to people who text me while driving. Even though I’m driving, mine always says “I’m in a meeting right now, I’ll call you back later.” And no I dont text anymore.

I think this is something that people forget: “there are very few phone calls or text messages if any that you need to take right away.” That is VERY true and peopel should remember that!
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Hank Coleman

TB,

What app are you using? You are 100% right about the texts and the phone calls. There are very few that are truly urgent. The same thing can be said for emails.
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Mary Kelly

Great article, Hank!

We all have to try to be cognizent of absently grabbing the phone while driving.

Terrific points and thanks for the dialogue!

Warmly,
Mary

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Hank Coleman

Thanks for adding to the article, Mary. I really appreciate it. I can’t wait to check out your book.
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Cruz Mclean

DriveSafe.ly works perfectly on mine. It’s a good app to avoid distracted driving caused by mobile phone. I know these kinds of driving apps promote safety but it’s better for the drivers to follow safety rules and be aware at any time while off the road.
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Jules@Fat Guy,Skinny Wallet

Thank you for posting this! I hate texting while driving. I have done it in the past,but recent statistics have made me fearful of it. It is causing more accidents than drunk driving does! Scary!
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Hank Coleman

Jules,

I think that a part of me wanted to write this article because I have a bad habit of doing this. I am going to add one of these apps to my smart phone to help me kick the habit.
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Grayson @ Debt Roundup

I can barely text on my phone when I am sitting down due to the small keyboard, so I don’t worry about texting while driving. I will either wait until I get to a stop light or to my destination. It is not that important. If I see that it is important and needs to be addressed, I will just call via bluetooth. Awesome article Hank.
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Hank Coleman

A small piece of garbage cell phone could be another great answer to the problem. Make it impossible to text with an old crappy clam shell phone or worse.

As for waiting to the next light, I’ve seen some talk that that is almost just as bad as texting while driving too. You’re still distracted and not paying attention and it is just enabling the inevitable. Great points though!
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KC @ genxfinance

If you value your life, and your passengers, turn off that darn phone off when you’re driving.
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Sarah Park

I like the apps that will control your phone while in motion. This suits to people who really can’t help holding their phone even while driving.
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Hank Coleman

People have an affinity to holding their phones while they drive? That seems really weird.
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Craig

Texting while driving is completely irresponsible and stupid!
People have become so addicted to these phones it’s not even funny.
It’s bad enough to see people walking down the street or through the mall while never looking up from their phone, but driving? That puts so many people at risk, it’s hard for me to believe anyone would actually do it.

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