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Drive Safe - an Android App for safer driving


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Drive Safe is an App that makes it safe to have an Android mobile phone in a car. It auto-senses when you are in a car that is moving. Once movement is detected it forwards all incoming voice calls to voicemail and auto-responds to all text messages with a message to say that you are driving and cannot respond at this time.

Why is auto-sense better than speaking on the phone on ‘hands-free’ ? The answer is in a single word - SAFETY. In 2016 research at the University of Sussex established that drivers using a hands-free phone are just as distracted as those using holding it in their hands. Scientists found that phone conversations can cause the driver to visually imagine what they are talking about using a part of the brain that is normally used to watch the road. The study involved 20 male and 40 female volunteers who took part in video tests while sitting in a car seat behind a steering wheel. One group of volunteers were allowed to "drive" undistracted while another two heard a male voice from a loudspeaker 3ft (0.9m) away. Those who were distracted by the voice engaging them in conversation took just under a second longer to respond to events, such as a pedestrian stepping off the pavement, an oncoming car on the wrong side of the road or an unexpected vehicle parked at a junction. The study showed that asking a simple question - such as, "where did you leave the blue file?"- during phone conversations could mean a driver concentrates on an area four times smaller than normal, because their brain is imagining the room where they left the file, instead of checking for hazards in front of them.

Other studies have suggested that phone conversations in a car are more off-putting than listening to the radio or talking to a passenger, A passenger chatting in a car is less distracting, the researchers argue, because both stop talking when the driver needs to concentrate.

I know that this is true from my own experiences. About twenty years ago I was driving home down a narrow side street. The road ahead was clear and I was approaching a junction. Suddenly, without any warning, a young child darted out from between two parked cars and appeared before the front of my car. I braked but it was not enough - the front of my car touched the child who landed on the bonnet and then fell in the road in front of me.

The child was slightly bruised but was otherwise unhurt - and very shocked. The child’s mother who came out of her house was angry with me for hitting her child. The police were called and breathalysed me, as was (and is) standard procedure. I had not been drinking. I think I must have been driving at around 5 mph when I hit the child. Everyone could see that this was a completely blameless accident and I had braked the instant I became aware of the child who was completely obscured by the parked cars. But a one-second delay in my braking could have led to serious injuries to the child. 

I think back to this incident almost every time I get into a car to drive it. If I had been talking on a phone when I saw the child and braked … it does not bear thinking about. This is the beauty of Drive Safe.

Drive Safe is available for Android. It was written by an Irish student, Andrew Irwin, who is trying to get people driving safely and is building his name as a cool App developer. 

To get the App for free after installing it and testing it out you just have to recommend it to one other person.

It is simple and is not bloated with features and functions which add unnecessary complexity. With Auto-Start it just detects when I am on the move and stops me taking calls or answering texts. The law currently says drivers can use hands-free phones, sat navs and two-way radios, but if the police think the driver is distracted and not in control of the vehicle, they could get penalised.

It might be useful not just for keeping drivers safe but also for helping kids with ADHD. Putting a phone into Drive Safe mode would allow a child to concentrate on what is happening around him when travelling, rather than just staring at the texts and phone calls arriving. It could even save lives as kids use their phones as they cycle without understanding the risks from traffic. 

 

Edited by AliKelman
Added a mention of the law on ths point
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