The Ultimate Do’s and Don'ts of Driving with Your Smartphone

Do you remember the day you got your license? We bet it was one of the happiest days of your life! Besides getting in line for the car, you could drive wherever you wanted and whenever you wanted. You could escape anything going on at home, drive to your best friend’s house to hang out, or go to the grocery store for a late-night ice cream run.

Back then, there weren’t very many distractions while on the road. Sure, you had your CD case to deal with or friends wildly singing along to the music. But the leading cause of distractions while driving was not as popular yet.

Insert the age of smartphones. With the rise of smartphones and smartphones came a surge in distracted driving and car accidents. Policy Advice reports that 1.35 million people die in road accidents worldwide every year, and that distracted driving is the leading cause of 25-50% of car accidents. 25-50%!

Although these numbers are incredibly high and alarming, the National Safety Council states that in the United States in 2019, car accident-related deaths dropped 2% from 2018, with an estimated 38,800 people losing their lives in car accidents.

Here at Lori Smart(er) Phone Protection, we know you depend on your smartphone for pretty much everything. You wake up and read your emails on your phone, scroll through your social media notifications, use Waze to get to work (maybe it will alert you to an accident), take notes on your phone during a meeting, and look for dinner recipes on Pinterest.

Your phone goes with you everywhere. Smartphones have changed the way we travel, too. Road trip possibilities are endless now. No more printing out MapQuest directions or buying an atlas before a big trip. No more burning that “Road Trip Summer 2005!” playlist to a blank CD.

Now, you have hundreds of options when it comes to music streaming apps, navigational apps, sightseeing apps, and more. Turn on Spotify, enter your destination in Waze, and check Yelp for a breakfast joint along the way.

While all of this technology is amazing, it has become so advanced that it can be a huge distraction while driving. However, there are many ways to use technology to your advantage. It can actually help reduce distracted driving.

And, we’re going to tell you how. Keep on reading to learn about the do’s and don'ts of driving with a smartphone, and how technology can keep you safer on the road.

DO: Turn on your phone’s DND (Do Not Disturb) setting

Technology has become so advanced that it can actually help prevent distracted driving. By turning on your phone’s DND setting while driving, you won’t receive any notifications. Turning this setting on is very easy, and there are a couple of different ways you can do it.

If you have an iPhone, simply pull down the control panel menu and press the moon or the car icon. Your phone is now on Do Not Disturb. You can also turn on DND through the settings. The great thing about an iPhone is that it can automatically turn on the setting when you are driving, instead of having to turn it on manually. Your iPhone will send auto-replies to text messages and silence all other notifications. You can only answer your phone through a hands-free device (we’ll get to that later) or your car’s Bluetooth system.

Accessing the DND setting on an Android is just as easy. Go to your sound settings and select do not disturb. You can also swipe down from the top of the screen to view the control panel and turn the setting on that way. Check out this article by the Joy of Android for more information on how to turn on the DND setting for different kinds of Androids.

Depending on what type of smartphone you have, it is possible that turning on the setting can affect your phone’s location services. Always test your phone’s GPS with the DND setting before leaving for your next road trip.


DON’T Text and drive (duh!)

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s an essential part of driving. Don’t text and drive, people! The statistics are staggering: In the United States, one out of four car accidents happen because of texting and driving. Using cell phones while driving causes 1.6 million crashes every year, and nearly 390,000 injuries occur every year.

Not only is it hazardous to text while driving, but it’s illegal! In the United States, 48 states have made it illegal to text and drive. Some states have even banned using cell phones at all while on the road.

For your individual state laws, check out the GHSA’s website.


DO: Use the latest cell phone blocking technology

Cell phone block technology is very convenient and helps prevent distracted driving every day. It works the same way as the do not disturb setting on your phone by preventing calls, texts, emails, and other notifications. 

There are a few different kinds of cell phone blocking technology that we’re going to talk about. One of the easiest ways to enable this technology is by downloading an app like LifeSaver or Drivemode. LifeSaver locks your screen and blocks notifications, while DriveMode allows only specific functions to work (including GPS.) 

Although apps like this are often used by parents to make sure their kids stay off their smartphones while driving, they are great for even the wokest Millenials out there (this is the only time we say, “woke.” We promise). If you’re easily distracted by notifications when driving, we recommend downloading an app that will take away your control. 

There are a ton of excellent cell phone blocking technologies out there and even some from your phone carriers themselves. For other app recommendations or carrier-specific driving modes, take a look at this article by Consumer Reports from last year.

DON’T: Eat your breakfast on your morning commute downtown

Listen, we know how hard it is to wake up on time, let alone with enough time to eat a bowl of cereal. But the last thing we want you to do is be distracted by eating your breakfast (or any other meal) while driving. 

Always eat your meals before getting in your car. If you are on a trip, choose to eat inside a restaurant instead of driving through a fast-food restaurant. And if you really can’t wait in between meals and need to have a snack, make sure it is something you can eat quickly and easily in the car.


DO: Use a hands-free device 

There are so many different hands-free devices that you can use while driving to help prevent distracted driving. The first kind we’ll talk about is using your car’s dashboard screen. Many newer vehicles on the road can hook your phone up to the display in your car. Although it’s not entirely hands-free, you can use navigation and make calls simply by plugging in your phone. Then, touch the screen to send a text, make a phone call, or add your destination. You can then speak out loud, and your car will do the typing for you.

If your car doesn’t have it built-in, you can also install a Bluetooth device in your car for hands-free driving, which usually come with a speakerphone. If you make a lot of phone calls while driving, a Bluetooth hands-free device is the perfect addition for your daily commute. Pro Car Reviews has put together a guide for some of the best hands-free devices out there to help you stay off your phone when driving.

Additionally, there are other hands-free headsets that you can wear while driving that allow you to talk on the phone. When you reach your destination, you can leave your car and still continue your conversations. Hands-free headsets are light-weight and durable, and there are many different kinds for all types of drivers.


DON’T: Take pictures or videos, or use social media while driving

In today’s society, we want to document everything that happens around us and share it immediately with the world. Social media is fun, but it’s incredibly distracting and should never be used while driving. We know you’re excited about the concert you’re going to tonight with your friends. But please, don’t take a Snapchat video of yourself singing along to the band’s new single on your way there!

It doesn’t matter if you are using your phone to record a video or take a picture, or if your friend is. Your eyes need to be on the road at all times. Give your full attention to driving and your surroundings. 

We know the constant notifications from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are distracting. It can be hard not to respond right away. Always take full advantage of your phone’s do not disturb setting or download an app that blocks notifications.


DO: Take full advantage of having a co-pilot

If you’re driving with a friend, put them to work! The best thing about having a co-pilot is that they can have full control of your phone. That way, you can focus on the road and get you both to where you need to be. Have your friend change the music, enter new directions, or text your mom back for you.

But, make sure your friend isn’t doing too much. They should be helpful when needed, but if they are the ones distracting you, kindly ask them to tone it down. The last thing you need is to get in an accident because you were paying attention to something your friend was doing. 

If you don’t have the luxury of driving with a friend to your next destination, use your phone before you buckle up and hit the road. The last thing that should be on your mind while driving is checking one of your apps.


At Lori Smart(er) Phone Protection, we want to keep you safe.

Smartphone device protection isn’t the only thing we focus on. Our number one priority is you!

Whether you are driving to work, moving across the county in a U-Haul, or merely driving to dinner with your friends, you shouldn’t have to worry about so many distracted drivers. Help keep the road safe by practicing all of our do’s and don’ts while on the road.

The consequences of distracted driving can be monumental. Not only can you hurt yourself, but you can hurt other people. Taking your eyes off the road for just a second can be a matter of life and death. 

With the amount of new technology today, there is no reason you should be on your phone when driving. It doesn’t matter if you are stopped at a red light or waiting for a train to pass. Only look at your phone before you put your car into drive and when you finally reach your destination and put your car in park. If it’s an emergency, pull to the side of the road and take the call. Or as we mentioned, use a hands-free device or have a passenger in your car answer important messages. 

By keeping your hands on the wheel, you are helping reduce the amount of distracted driving that happens every day. And when that happens, you’re saving lives and making the roads safe for everyone.