Three Smartphone Apps That Can Help or Hinder Drivers

By Trevor Dorchies | July 20, 2012
Smartphones have exploded onto the scene over the past few years, and sales aren't showing any signs of slowing down soon. Besides being able to make a phone call or send a text message, smartphones allow users to surf the internet, check email, and play an endless amount of games thanks to an exponentially growing application marketplace. Apps aren't just for games however, as many are designed to make life easier too. There are three apps that are creating a stir in the automotive industry—two that can help after being in an accident, and one that blocks cell phone usage—that have garnered our attention. The first app, known as the "Cellphone Accident Preventer," helps eliminate distracted driving as a whole. CAP works by using a small antenna placed on top of a vehicle to jam the driver's cell phone, effectively eliminating any type of interaction with it. Radio frequency identification then kicks in and alerts the police and everyone else nearby that the driver is using a smartphone while driving. “The vehicle license plate information, which is already stored in the system, will be transmitted to a receiver placed on the traffic signal post, which in turn displays the license number in an LCD display so that police can take legislative action against the driver,” app co-creator Abdul Shabeer told Wired. “At the same time, a warning message or sound will be given to passengers sitting inside the vehicle indicating that the driver is using a cellphone.”
Shabeer developed CAP along with two other researchers at India's Anna University of Technology. However, it should be noted that CAP is still just a research project, and there aren't any plans for commercial distribution. Not all smartphone apps are made to jam cellphone signals though. Some can provide assistance in those dizzy moments right after an accident. "Help I Crashed My Car" for Android users and "Car Accident Report" for those with an iPhone can help organize a notoriously hectic situation. Both applications hold emergency contact information, vehicle information including the make, model, your insurance information and other personal data, and can be easily accessed when needed. GPS tracking and a checklist of what do to right after the accident occurred is also included in both apps. There's also an accident screen that can be filled out with extensive detail with fields for other vehicles and drivers included in the accident. A notable feature in Car Accident Report is the ability to integrate the report with your iPhone's camera which enables you to take photos of the accident scene and include them with notes, pictures, and even audio recordings from when on the scene. While some may think you can never pay close enough attention to detail, an off-putting  observation to Help I Crashed My Car is that it may include too much detail. Most drivers are chock-filled with adrenaline moments after an accident making it hard to record every single, little detail. Another minor gripe is that the graphics could use a little more polishing. It should be noted that Help I Crashed My Car and Car Accident Report are two of many apps available to both Android and iPhone users. Both aforementioned apps are free to download. Do you have an application on your smartphone that's ready to assist you in the event of an accident? Tell us about it in the comment section below. Source: Consumer Reports, Wired