Keeping your family safe while driving has never been more challenging. Thousands of people die every year in easily preventable accidents.
It's so easy to get distracted, whether you're texting, looking at your smartphone's map, reaching for a water bottle, putting on makeup or other similar things. People are dying and there's absolutely no reason that your loved ones should be the next victims.
Fortunately, when it comes to distracted driving, car makers and tech giants like Google and Apple are making strides to help keep their eyes on the road. For instance, there is a growing number of voice-activated connected cars and smartphone apps, where you speak to your device rather than type into it.
Car companies, tech firms and local governments are developing self-driving cars that hold the promise of safer roads. Just think about this. Google's self-driving cars have racked up more than 1 million miles with almost no accidents.
Plus, it's now illegal to text or speak on the phone while driving in many cities and states.
Yet, while technology can help keep all of us safe, you can do something right now to protect your family. It's easy and it goes far beyond telling them, "No texting while driving."
You can set up auto-reply messages on your smartphones, whether you're using Android or iPhone. Your phone will tell people that you're driving when your car is in motion.
These auto replies ensure that your family and you don't look down at your phone and start typing a reply. Instead, the phone will intercept the calls and texts and tell that person that you'll get back to them when you're safely off the road.
Keep reading for step-by-step instructions to set up an auto-reply message on your Android or your iPhone.
Auto Reply on Android
Your best bet for sending an automated response on Android smartphones is to use Android Auto and similar apps. They detect when you're driving and provide an auto-reply option for incoming phone calls, texts and messaging app messages.
Do you use Android Auto? If so, go to Android Auto >> Settings >> Auto Reply >> it should say, I'm Driving Now. To send the auto-reply message, you tap or say "OK, Google, reply."
If you don't have Android Auto, download a FREE app like SMS Auto Reply Text Message or Safest Text Auto Reply (STAR).
You can set up specific times that you want your phone's ring and vibration turned off. You can also create your auto-reply responses.
SMS Auto Reply (below) also has important features like a Whitelist. The contacts on this list, like your children or spouse, can get through even if you're in auto-reply mode.
Note: Since many different manufacturers make Android smartphones, there are different ways to set up auto reply messages. Your phone may have an auto-reply feature built in. Samsung, for instance, has a new app called In-Traffic Reply. When it detects your car is in motion, it will send an automatic response when a call or text comes in. In-Traffic Reply is currently in beta but will debut in the Google Play Store soon.
Bonus: Call your cellphone maker and ask them if they have an auto-reply solution or if they recommend a specific auto-reply app. Or call your cellphone provider. Ask them to connect you with a specialist who's knowledgeable about your specific phone manufacturer.
iPhone Aut0 Reply
With all the features you love on iPhones, you'd think there would be a built-in solution to automatically respond to incoming calls and texts. The bad news is that there isn't one.
The good news, however, is that it's pretty easy to set up an auto reply on your iPhone. One solution is Apple CarPlay. This audio display console in your car lets you make phone calls or reply to texts and messages with one tap or a voice response.
Apple's voice-activated assistant, Siri, will help you out. CarPlay isn't available in all cars, so this may not be an immediate solution for you.
A FREE and easy-to-setup alternative is AT&T DriveMode. (Ask your cellphone provider if they have an auto-reply app.)
DriveMode turns on its It Can Wait function when you're driving over 15 MPH (see image below). It silences your phone and intercepts incoming calls. It also automatically responds to incoming texts from other AT&T customers.
Of course, you can find FREE apps in the iTunes store that will intercept your calls and automatically reply to texts. Which auto-reply features and apps do you use? Let us know in the comments.