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Driving and texting
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Tech tips

True or false: It’s illegal to talk to your phone’s smart assistant while driving

Smart assistants can be used with smartphones, tablets, computers and smart devices to make life easier. You can turn the lights on, set a reminder to get the groceries, recommend a restaurant, play your favorite music and set the mood to watch a movie. The possibilities are truly endless.

A smart assistant is only as good as the commands you give to it. Sometimes it can get confused and needs further clarification. This can be frustrating, but it’s important not to lose your cool, making things worse. Tap or click here for five ways to get Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant to understand you better.

You know that it’s illegal to use your phone while driving. If a cop catches you texting behind the wheel, you’re probably going to get a ticket. Hands-free solutions have solved this issue, but what about talking to your smart assistant? Is that even legal?

What you can and can’t do

There are currently no laws preventing you from talking to a virtual assistant while driving. This is all dependent on keeping your hands off your phone, however. You can use a wake word such as “Hey Siri” or “OK Google,” but don’t think about pressing a button on your phone to get a dialogue started.

You can physically use your phone when your vehicle is stopped depending on where you live. Other areas forbid holding or handling your phone while you’re behind the wheel. This includes holding a phone to your head, texting and using a speakerphone.

The state also regulates headphone use. Some outlaw headphone usage outright, while others allow one earpiece. Then some states don’t have any restrictions on headphones. Check your local laws for more information.

RELATED: Helpful secret phrases you can say to Siri or Google Assistant

Hands-free doesn’t mean totally safe

Even if you don’t remove your hands from the wheel, you’re taking away some attention from the road when you use your phone. Whether you’re on the phone with a friend or asking your smart assistant to recommend a nearby coffee shop, some distraction is involved.

Smart assistants give you more possibilities behind the wheel, such as sending a text message. This can be very distracting even if you keep your eyes on the road.

Keep your hands-free activity to a minimum. Ask Google Assistant for directions and traffic reports. Ask Siri for the nearest gas station if you need to fill up and make an important call if you need to. Put your playlist on shuffle. But don’t engage in constant back-and-forth text messaging.

Get to know your smart assistant well to use it when driving more easily.

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