More cities are banning the use of cellphones by drivers in a moving vehicle. According to the National Safety Council cellphone distractions are just as dangerous as getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.
Since April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month we decided to look at some ways for people to use their cellphones (because most people use their phones no matter what they're doing) while keeping both hands on the steering wheel.
A hands-free smartphone mount is the one must-have gadget for every car. These mounts hold the smartphone while being placed on the dash, windshield or attached to an air vent. The Griffin WindowSeat Universal Auto Mount is a good example. It attaches to the dash or windshield with a suction cup and holds any smartphone even in the phone's case.
Other car mounts are available from Amazon and other retailers for $10-$20. In terms of safety, a smartphone mount is about 80% of the solution.
Apple and Google have integrated many hands-free features in the phones.
Apple's Siri voice assistant is a solution for any iPhone user. Siri will read and send text messages, find and give directions, dial phone numbers and play music on the phone. Siri can also be hands-free by changing the settings and allow it to respond to your voice and the command "Hey Siri". Once that is enabled the assistant is always listening for the command word.
Google's "Okay Google" isn't just Android's answer to Siri, but is much better for features recently added to phones made by Samsung, Motorola, LG and HTC.
By saying "Okay Google" the voice assistant will also read new text messages, reply to those messages, search for and give directions, dial numbers, play music and answer questions. Newer Android devices also have a stand-alone app called Android Auto that enhances those features. Words on the screen are larger and there are automated messages such as "I can't talk now, I'm driving". Android Auto also works with a number of other Android apps such as Audible, Spotify and Facebook Messenger.
There are dozens of hands-free gadgets on the market as well such as bluetooth earpieces, headsets and external speakers but if simply driving 'hands-free' is the objective, the features built into iPhones and Android devices are well equipped to help you keep both hands on the wheel.