Ahhh, driving! It’s just getting from point A to B, right? But for most drivers today, it’s not just about the act of driving anymore. Most of the time, it’s an “escape-from-traffic-adventure” or “I’m-this-close-to-losing-it-incident”. It would have been okay if gas prices didn’t keep increasing and if certain motorists actually take the time to learn some driving etiquette. Luckily, we’re living in the smartphone era, where everyone can take advantage of the thousands of apps developed to make our lives easier. No need to ask us if there’s an app that will help you overcome the challenges on the road. Here are our top three picks to help you power through even the most hectic driving days.
Hey, remember when you can get a gallon of gasoline for only 30 cents? No? Well that’s because you didn’t live in the 1920s (we assume) and because you haven’t paid a visit to one of the oil-rich countries in the Middle East. Anyway, you get the idea. When you’re running low on fuel and funds, the last thing you want to do is to keep driving around looking for a gas station until your tank goes empty. GasBuddy, a free app developed for Android, Blackberry and iOS users in the United States and Canada, helps you find the nearest gas stations that offer the lowest prices. Tap “Find Gas Near Me” to go to the list of gas stations closest to you. Users can report gas prices based on their city/postal/zip code or GPS location. The price entries are time stamped so you can check if there were any recent price hikes or drops. The comments section also allows users to review the service and indicate if a particular station has closed down.
There’s no foolproof way to predict traffic conditions, because there are several variables involved. Today you left home late, but you still made it to the office in the nick of time; the day before that, you left earlier than usual but still found yourself stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an hour. INRIX Traffic is a free app that helps you eliminate the guesswork involved when it comes to choosing the best route to take. At first glance, INRIX just provides a live traffic map that you can find in GoogleMaps or iOS Maps; but in reality it gives you more useful information like accidents, comparative traffic, construction sites, and predicted traffic. The data is gathered from an estimated 100 million mobile phones and fleet vehicles equipped with GPS. The information is processed in real-time so you can compare current conditions to normal conditions as well as get traffic forecasts. Upgrading to the premium INRIX Traffic for $25 allows you to save commuting routes, provides you with personalized directions and travel time recommendations, and gives you access to live video from traffic cameras along certain roads. Just make sure to turn off the GPS when not in use because this app is a battery guzzler.
You don’t really need us to tell you that texting while driving is a no-no. And yet we still hear about cases of negligent driving even when there are laws in place. Now if you have a teen who has his or her own car or if you’re someone whose job requires you to be always on the road and reachable at the same time, you need to download DriveSafe.ly, “the solution to texting while driving.” Compatible with Android, Blackberry, iPhone and Windows Mobile, DriveSafe.ly is an app “that reads text (SMS) messages and emails aloud in real time and automatically responds without drivers touching the mobile phone.” In a way, this app is somewhat like a business telephone – but without the callback functionality. Still, for just $13.95 (annually, for a single user), it’s a worthy investment towards safely staying connected while reducing distracted driving.