Cell Phone in your Car? Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts

Despite the passage of numerous laws in most states or countries prohibiting or limiting the use of cell phones while driving, everywhere I go I see people using their phones in their cars. So regardless of the legal aspects, here’s my top ten list of the best practices for using a cell phone in your car – assuming you’re going to do that no matter what anyone tells you:

smartphone_suction_mount5. Get a mounting bracket for your phone, so it’s handy and you don’t have to dig for it while driving just to answer a call, look at your map, etc. Such as a suction mount that can mount onto either your windshield or a smooth dashboard surface (such as this one from Amazon.com for $64). There are a wide variety of mounting options and types of these sorts of brackets, also available from your wireless service provider or just about any office supply store or computer store. I’d suggest you look at a physical model before you buy (either at one of these stores or online), since there’s so many different cars and configurations. Look at the various mounting options (suction, clip-on, clip-in, etc.) and choose a place in your car that doesn’t block your view and is just far enough away to be reachable.

roadWarrior-Motorola-Speaker4. Use or get a hands-free method of talking on the cellphone – newer cars have Bluetooth built in, if your car is older, you can get a visor-mounted device (such as the Motorola TX500 for $60 from Fry’s, or the Jabra FREEWAY for $100 from Rakuten). These or other brands/models are also available from your wireless service provider or just about any office supply store or computer store.

shutterstock_146369702_result3. Do not text while driving – not even if stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic. Just don’t. Not only is it most likely against the law, but it distracts you from everything around you, and it’s way too easy to get focused on the texting. I see this happening around me at just about every stop point on the road. Plus, it’s a horrible model for all the young drivers out there. If you think you’re ‘doing it right’, please change your mind – you aren’t ’cause there is no right way to text while behind the wheel. Oh, and if you’re going to ignore this advice and text anyway? See the last bit below.

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google-maps-navigation2. If you use your smartphone’s built-in mapping/GPS feature (or an app like TomTom), program in your destination before you start out on your trip. Both Google/Android and Apple Maps apps have turn-by-turn navigation with automatic re-routing if you go off-track, make a wrong turn, etc. iPhone users can use the built-in Apple Maps app, or get the Google Maps app. And take the time to learn how to use the app before you set out, making changes in-route can be complicated. So if you have to do this, pull over to make a change. Also see the last bit below.

Android-Voice-Search-vs.-iPhone-Siri1. Learn how to use Google (Android) Voice Control or Siri (Apple)  or Cortana (Microsoft) to control your phone while in the car. This can take a little bit of time (iPhone users can watch our show on using Siri). That way you can leave the phone in its mounting bracket and still be able to place or answer phone calls, etc.

Of course, the best thing to do is leave the phone put away and not use it at all. The U.S. NTSB has recommended that all cellphone use be banned while driving – actually saying all ‘portable electronic devices’ which would include portable GPS units. Their reasoning is that road distraction is road distraction – their 2-page PDF is here. Even experienced drivers are distracted, and the NTSB says that even hands-free cellphone use is dangerous. If you think you’re a good enough driver to handle it, the NTSB flatly disagrees with you, along with just about every law enforcement official, every rescue crew working traffic accidents, and I betcha every responsible citizen. One last thing to consider, experienced drivers serve as models for younger drivers to emulate – so I recommend you be a good model on the road and limit or abstain from all cellphone use while driving.


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