What Are The Best Smartphone Apps For Motorists?

Maybe I can’t play Plants vs. Zombies while I drive (or maybe I can!*), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of useful apps for the average driver. In its August issue, Consumer Reports reviews a bunch of apps for motorists, both free and paid, that promise to help you remember maintenance dates, get the correct info after an accident, or find your car in a big parking lot.

*Note: Fortunately for you, I don’t own a car.

“Smartphone Apps Rated By Consumer Reports “ [InformationWeek]


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  1. AllanG54 says:

    Car Finder…for those too drunk or too stupid to remember where they parked.

    • Bakergirl says:

      Would that include a breathalizer app? And if you fail, it automaticlly dials a predetermined cab company.

    • sonneillon says:

      I need that just to find a car after a movie because my eyes have yet to adjust to the light, of course my dumb ass can’t see my phone screen either.

  2. Nighthawke says:

    “*Note: Fortunately for you, I don’t own a car.”

    That makes me feel a lot safer walking on the sidewalk.


  3. npage148 says:

    One that turns off/locks out the phone if it detects a speed >15mph

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      I’d say greater than 7mph. You shouldn’t bike and text either.

    • chefboyardee says:

      while i completely agree with the idea, unfortunately it would never work in practice.

      i’m often in the passenger seat while my wife is driving.

  4. chefboyardee says:

    Trapster and Car Locator (both on Droid) are the only two I use regularly besides Maps/Navigation.

    There’s also a red light/traffic cam app that is great, but unless you’re in a major city, the coverage is iffy (for obvious reasons).

  5. Death to Frying Things says:

    DriveSafe.ly for the Blackberry. It reads incoming email messages aloud so I don’t have to react like Pavlov’s Dog whenever I hear the sonar ping. Also prevents the DTs I get when a message has come in and I wait more than 2 minutes to look at it.

  6. smo0 says:

    ….. An app that sends an “engine kill” command to the cars of bad drivers.

  7. msbask says:

    My Samsung Instinct has built-in GPS, which is the best thing ever.

    (Not technically an “app”, but I’m still loving it!)

  8. dolemite says:

    I’m fond of “moveoutoftheleftlaneandgetoffthecellphone.”

  9. NarcolepticGirl says:

    Trapster. Although since I lived in a small city, there’s not much listed on it. But it can be more useful when I’m somewhere else.

    I never really use the GPS thing… we have already have one.

  10. ColHapablap says:


    When in motion the phone will:
    – Disable all texting and calling functionality
    – Turn off the radio
    – Send an electric shock through the collar (optional add-on, $15) when you so much as glance at anything that’s not the road or speedometer
    – Send out inverse audio frequencies to noise-cancel the voices of any passengers; however, if those voices are trying to nag you about driving distracted, it will amplify them

    • DarthCoven says:

      So looking at mirrors and checking blind spots is a no-no?

      Please tell me the roads you frequent, so I can stay the hell away from them.

  11. Tim says:

    Carrr Matey. Hands down, the best parking lot car-finding app out there. It’s got a pirate theme and speaks to you in pirate. I think it might be Android only though.

  12. HillSA23 says:

    I can’t stand the apps that detect and post speed traps. Our front desk receptionist sends out building-wide alerts whenever there is a speed trap in the area.

    I just can’t stand that. At BEST we’re saving staff from a DESERVED traffic ticket. At the worst we’re condoning all sorts of bad things — speeding, unsafe driving, undermining the police and traffic laws, etc.

    Sorry, that’s a bit off topic. To bring it back on topic (a bit) — the speed trap apps, when they work (rarely), are not “good” for us.

    • nbs2 says:

      How is it undermining safety? When people know there is a speedtrap coming up, they slow down, check to make sure they are driving safely, etc. The only thing they aren’t doing is contributing to the city coffers.

      So, riddle me this Batman: What is the point of speedtraps – to ensure safety or increase revenue?

      • HillSA23 says:

        If you need to slow down, check your driving, etc. when there’s a speed trap coming up then you’re one of the people who deserve to be caught. Forewarning people about speed traps just makes the bad drivers drive safely for 45 seconds and then they go right back to speeding and unsafe driving.

        “The only thing they aren’t doing is contributing to the city coffers.” Untrue. Here’s a couple other things they aren’t doing — learning a lesson and driving safely one minute later.

        “So, riddle me this Batman: What is the point of speedtraps – to ensure safety or increase revenue?” The purpose isn’t to ensure safety, it’s to promote safety. That’s why our speed traps in Wisconsin are set up in problem areas. Nobody learns a damn thing nor do they alter their actions when they can just cruise through one of these zones because they have been warned ahead of time.

    • HannahK says:

      That kind of seems like a weird use of company time. However, would you object to an email letting the company know that several neighborhoods had complained to the local office parks because there had been a lot of accidents or near misses caused by speeding?

      Basically that’s all speed traps are. The police identify problem areas and try to train drivers to slow down in those areas. If your office has employees who travel a lot, it seems in line with the receptionist’s job to remind them to drive safely in certain problem areas. I suppose it depends on how professional the emails are, of if the receptionist just rants to the whole company because she got a well deserved ticket that morning…

      • HillSA23 says:

        I wouldn’t object to that notification, no. That’s a smart warning for a business with travelling workers. However, warning people about a problem area is quite different than exposing a hidden speed trap. The police put many, many man-hours into a speed trap (setting the location, date, allocating officers/equipment and their time) and one receptionist can negate most of that effort with a single email. That’s crazy.

        My position remains: if you don’t need to slow down or alter your driving in a speed trap then you’re fine. If you do, however, then you deserve to be caught. Forewarning, in this case, is undermining the efforts of local law enforcement. I don’t think there’s any way of getting around that. If you warn people about a hidden speed trap you are aiding the speeders.

        I’ll say it again regarding that forewarning — AT THE VERY BEST you’re depriving an unsafe driver of a DESERVED ticket … and that’s the best-case scenario.

        • HannahK says:

          I think you have a skewed view of what speed traps are for. The police don’t spend all that time coming up with secret speed traps to catch “the speeders” for the sake of punishing them. They are set up in areas where the majority of drivers routinely go too fast, which is bad for public safety. They pull some people over and ticket them, but the point is for other drivers to see that happening and adjust their habits as well. So spreading the word far and wide about speed traps helps the police accomplish their goal of visibly enforcing traffic laws and training the public to slow down in problem areas. You’re not hindering their goal of punishing as many people as possible, because that’s not the goal.

          • HillSA23 says:

            The unsafe drivers don’t get tickets because they’re forewarned about speed traps. That’s the impetus behind my comments. People won’t see people being pulled over and ticketed because people already know the speed trap exists. The entire effort is undermined. As such, the purpose of the speed trap is inconsequential as it won’t meet it’s goals (however you want to define them). Furthermore, it’s a little narrow-sighted to say “speed traps are set up for this one purpose” when they can be set up for a multitude of purposes. This one might be to draw attention to a frequent danger area, this other one might be to catch the perpetrators, this other one might be wholly to fill the city’s coffers. I don’t think my view of speed traps is skewed at all. With respect, I think your viewpoint is skewed as you seem to be implying that all speed traps are of identical design and purpose.

            Once again — the forewarning makes the speed trap an area where folks drive safe for 45 seconds and then resume their unsafe driving habits when the police are far behind them.

            Getting a ticket for speeding is going to (or should) cause you to alter your driving habits permanently. Seeing someone else getting a ticket in a speed zone as you breeze past does not.

  13. majortom1981 says:

    Even though it was $50 and another $20 for trafic i have found the tom tom app very usefull .ITs is pretty exact with its trafgfic updates. I had the app notify me at that the traffic cleared at the exact time i saw it clear ahead of me.

    ITs very very usefull .I really dont need the gps part but the traffic part rocks. even will change your route i nreal time depending on traffic.

  14. AntiNorm says:

    aCar is one of the few Android apps I regularly use. Keeps track of fuel expenses, service expenses, gives you service reminders, statistics, charts, etc.

    For those of you who are going on about using speed trap apps, I have a better way of avoiding speeding tickets…DON’T SPEED.