GPS devices, cell phones, and MP3 players have been coexisting with cars for years, so one might think that people would know by now how to use car tech without irritating and endangering the lives of others. One would be wrong. To that end, several states (six for handheld calling and 22 for texting, to be exact) have passed laws banning various types of cell phone activity while driving.
But tech in the car isn't all bad. Gadgets can provide much-needed directions for exploring a new city or hours of entertainment on lengthy road trips. Sometimes it's hard to imagine how we ever lived without such niceties in our vehicles, though I'm sure many of you remember it as clearly as I do (I went on a lot of road trips when I was young...and played a lot of I SPY*). I would never suggest we ditch car tech, but I can provide tips to keep yourself safe, sane, and entertained on the road.
First, let's get a no-brainer out of the way: DON'T text while driving! No matter what the law in your state says, it's never a good idea to text and drive. In fact, one Car & Driver study found that it's safer to drive drunk, not that I recommend that, either. If you must check a text from someone or shoot off a note of your own, either pull over or wait until you're at a red light. And speaking of obvious: how about you put down that hamburger/cigarette/mascara/infant (!!!) and focus on the freakin' road already.
Also, DO consider purchasing a Bluetooth headset for talking while driving, though I'm not convinced that this necessarily safer than talking on the handset. However, it is the legal route in some states (including CNET's home state), and--hey--at least it comes in handy for other situations, such as yammering on the phone while you prepare dinner or fold the laundry. And while we're still on the topic of cell phones, DO make sure you brush up on the laws of whatever state you're driving in so that you'll avoid tickets--and the unnecessary delays and humiliation caused by local police pulling you over and doling out a lecture.
Of course, phones aren't the only things that can distract you while behind the wheel. Make sure you DON'T input GPS coordinates while driving; instead, have a passenger do it, or program destinations before your trip or while stopped. Also, make sure the GPS is mounted on the windshield or dash at eye-level or, when prohibited, set loud enough that you can hear audio directions. In other words, limit taking your eyes off the road as much as possible.… Read more