Distracted driving: Consumer Reports finds ways to keep drivers safe

Some tech companies introduce safety measures

SAN ANTONIO – Car crash deaths are on the rise, and despite laws and safety campaigns, driver distraction from cellphones continues to be a problem.

A Consumer Reports survey found that of licensed drivers who own a smartphone, texted, 52 percent played music, browsed the web, sent emails or watched videos while behind the wheel.

Some tech companies are introducing safety measures to keep drivers from being distracted.

Apple’s latest operating system update includes a mode that blocks alerts for calls or texts. People can also download apps for iPhones or Androids that will allow them to set up autoreplies to incoming calls or texts.

Consumer Reports suggests pairing your phone to your vehicle's Bluetooth, putting it out of sight and using voice command features in your car.

Distracted driving can also be linked to a vehicle’s infotainment system.

“Many newer car models have infotainment systems that can contribute to drivers taking their eyes off the road,” said Jon Linkov, Consumer Reports’ auto editor.

Consumer Reports rates infotainment systems on ease of use and how much they distract drivers.

READ MORE: AAA: Vehicle infotainment systems increase distractions

“Many car manufacturers are also developing newer technologies designed to make new cars safer,” Linkov said.

Lane departure and collision warning systems and automatic braking help distracted drivers avoid danger. And while these can be useful, Consumer Reports says nothing beats keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.

About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.