The Techie’s Guide to Preventing a Car Accident

Introduction

Slowly but surely, technology has become an unavoidable part of our day. We now have the ability to keep in touch with family, friends, and coworkers whether we’re at the mall, the beach, or even zooming down the highway. But fidgeting with cell phones and other technological devices while driving is enormously dangerous, contributing to more than 500,000 injuries and 6,000 deaths last year alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration.

With that in mind, GJEL Accident Attorneys has compiled a list of devices that will help avoid the temptation to text, email, or dial friends while on the road. The devices to the left, which range from every day fixtures to cutting-edge newcomers, can help make yourself and your teenager tech gurus, but more importantly, a safer drivers.


Bluetooth and Some Other Safety No-Brainers

If you haven’t yet joined the Bluetooth revolution, today’s the day. You don’t have to be one of those people who walks around the supermarket gabbing loudly with the wireless device in your ear, but driving with it is an easy way to keep from searching the car frantically, with one eye barely on the road, when their phone rings.

Photo credit: anjin

Bluetooth

  • Ubiquitous hands free device that answers calls and uses voice recognition to dial others.
  • Available in all shapes and sizes for all cell phones.
  • Reviews: Gadgetell, Tech News World
  • Cost: $20 – $150
  • Where to buy: Mobile carrier stores, Amazon.com, just about anywhere.

Photo credit: willsisti

TomTom

  • GPS-powered step-by-step directions to any address.
  • Announces each turn outloud so the driver can focus on the road.
  • Reviews: Crunchgear, Engadget
  • Cost: $100 – $350
  • Where to buy: TomTom webpage, Amazon.com

Photo credit: mrlerone

Rear cameras

  • Video of the space behind your car shows on your dashboard.
  • Helps to avoid small obstacles hidden in the vehicle’s blind spot.
  • Reviews: PC World
  • Cost: $60 – $140
  • Where to buy: Costco, Car Specialty Stores

Phone Suppression Technology

Distracted driving contributed to more than 500,000 injuries and 6,000 deaths last year alone. The following technologies will help ignore the phone and keep the road safer by improving road awareness.

Zoomsafer

  • Installs into your headset to screen incoming calls and text messages.
  • Blocks text messages and responds with an automated message saying you’re driving.
  • Announces the name of callers over a speaker so the driver won’t glance at phone.
  • Reviews: CNET, TMCnet
  • Cost: $25 up front and $2.99 per month.
  • Where to buy: Zoomsafer webpage


Key2SafeDriving

  • Installs into your headset to screen incoming calls and text messages.
  • Automatically sends incoming calls to voicemail.
  • Replies to texts with automated message saying you’re driving.
  • Reviews: NPR, Bay News 9
  • Cost: $100
  • Where to buy: Key2SafeDriving webpage


Vlingo

  • Downloadable via Apple iTunes store for iPhone and online for BlackBerry.
  • Voice-activated dialing technology.
  • Reads texts and emails aloud to the driver.
  • Reviews: New York Times, everythingiCafe
  • Cost: free for voice automated dialing; $9.99 one-time payment for full use.
  • Where to buy: iTunes Store, BlackBerry App World.

Anti-Reckless Driving Technology

Even if teenagers can avoid playing with their cell phone in the car, some are tempted to drive dangerously or too fast, hoping to reach their destination quickly, or thinking it’s the key to a good time. Here are some products that will make teenagers think twice before driving recklessly.

Speed Demon

  • GPS phone add on that alerts the parents if a teen is driving too fast, or too dangerously.
  • Website boasts that it’s a win-win for parents and teens. Teens get the privacy they crave unless they violate safe driving principles.
  • Reviews: ABC Good Morning America, InventorSpot
  • Cost: $200 up front and $15 per month.
  • Where to buy: Speed Demon webpage.


Lane Departure Warning System

  • Warns the driver when he or she veers too close to the another lane or vehicle.
  • The Toyota Prius’ lane keeping technology steers the vehicle slightly back on course.
  • Reviews: GearLog, Engadget
  • Cost: $4,200 technology add on for the Toyota Prius
  • Where to buy: Various auto dealerships.


Pre-Collision Systems

  • Uses advanced radar to anticipate and help react to unavoidable frontal collisions.
  • Car warns the driver when an accident is imminent and activates the break assist system and tightens seatbelts if he or she does not react.
  • Reviews: CNET, Autobytel
  • Cost: $4,500 technology add-on available for the Toyota Prius.
  • Where to buy: Various auto dealerships

Drunk and Drowsy Driving Prevention

Each year, more than 9,000 fatalities could be prevented with the implementation of attention detection devices that monitor the driver for signs of inebriation or drowsiness. Below are some key options:

Photo credit: mrjorgen

Ignition Interlock Devices

  • In-vehicle breathalyzer that subdues the car if the driver’s blood alcohol content is above 0.08.
  • Zero alcohol tolerance settings available for teenagers.
  • Reviews: Engadget, Slate
  • Cost: $500 – $1,600
  • Where to buy: Sens-o-Lock Determinator, Guardian Interlock, various auto dealers

Photo credit: thetruthabout

Drowsiness Video Sensor

  • A sensor on the dashboard that monitors the driver’s face for signs of drowsiness.
  • Makes noises and/or tugs on the driver’s seat belt to force driver to pull over.
  • Reviews: Automotive, MSNBC
  • Cost: Volvo’s Driver Alert Control technology add-on totals $1,700.
  • Where to buy: Various auto dealerships


Gear Shift Palm Detection

  • Gear shift palm sensors lock the car in park if alcohol is detected.
  • When alcohol is detected, the vehicle’s navigation system issues a drunk driving voice alert.
  • Reviews: All World Cars, New Scientist
  • Cost: TBD
  • Where to buy: Various auto dealerships, including Nissan

DISCLAIMER: While we hope this resource will provide guidance about the technology available to make yourself and your family safer drivers, this guide is not meant to advocate particular products or vendors above others.