The latest figures show more than 400,000 people were injured in car accidents in 2012 because their phones distracted them. More than 3,000 people died. Consumer Reports just tested new free apps designed to keep those kinds of accidents from happening.
There's Sprint's "Drive First," "Safely Go" from Verizon, and AT&T’s "DriveMode." All three blocked the texts as promised and sent back an automatic reply, which you can customize. And they each can limit incoming calls to a short list.
With the Verizon app, you turn it on each time you're about to drive. The others go on automatically, which is an advantage because you don't have to think about it. AT&T's blocking app is activated at 25 mph and Sprint's at 10 mph. And Sprint also offers a website where parents can monitor what their teen is doing with their phone while driving.
If you're an iPhone user, you can go to your settings and select "Do Not Disturb" before you get behind the wheel. Consumer Reports says that option won't send any automatic responses, but it will silence all text message notification and phone calls so that you won't be distracted.
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports' website.