There’s no doubt about it — we live in an unparalleled era of distracted driving. Just take a look at some of these disturbing stats: according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision or near collision; RCMP reported that In 2010, distracted driving contributed to 104 vehicular accidents causing death in B.C.; and the Government of Canada estimated economic losses caused by traffic accident-related healthcare claims and subsequent drop in productivity total about $10 billion annually.
There’s no immediate solution to this problem, but we can all do our part by finding alternative ways to be productive in our cars without playing on our cellphones. We’ll show you a few technologies on the market today to help you do just that.
Whether you’re buying a subcompact or luxury SUV, most new cars have the option of coming with Bluetooth handsfree systems that lets you pair your smartphone with the audio system, so that you can make and receive calls utilizing a hidden microphone in the cabin and the stereo speakers. If you don’t have this fancy setup, not to worry — companies have been making wireless Bluetooth speakers that replicate these features in one compact unit for some time now.
Jabra is a specialist in the headset and speakerphone sphere and makes several models, like the Freeway, that clips to the sun visor and is compatible with any Bluetooth-enabled phone. The Freeway picks up your voice and plays back audio either through the onboard speakers, or sends it directly to your car’s radio using a built-in FM transmitter.
Just like Bluetooth, packaged navigations systems in modern vehicles are becoming more common, although they are usually still available only as part of an add-on package or bundled with a higher trim level. Luckily, we’re starting to see advancements in portable GPS devices. The TomTom Go 600 allows the use of voice commands to set destinations and answer queries, has a large six-inch capacitative touchscreen, lifetime North American maps and can tell you where the nearest parking garage is.
The latest partnership between certain automakers and the creators of the iPhone has resulted in CarPlay, which amongst other things integrates Siri and automotive-related apps right into the vehicle’s infotainment system. This technology is just starting to be rolled out now on select models, and some aftermarket audio manufacturers are already taking advantage by offering their own versions.
The Pioneer AppRadio 4 receiver fits into standard double-DIN dash spaces, and works with both Apple and Android devices. The 6.2-inch capacitative touch display gives access to your cellphone’s music library, messages, streaming music apps and more. It also adds Siri Eyes Free so you can ask for directions, set reminders, and do all the other things you’re accustomed to without having to take your focus off the road.