Tech Byte: How to Use In-Car Tech Safely on Your Summer Road Trip

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — It’s summertime, and that means many of us will be spending hours in the car for those long road trips.

Let’s look at how you can safely take advantage of the newest in-car tech, while still making your trip fun.

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Technology in vehicles may be getting more high tech, but it’s getting easier to use at the same time.

“It’s just that quick, you’re in one of our systems,” said Eddie Bartlett, Crown Cars of Chattanooga. “It doesn’t take an hour or two hours of training to learn how to use the radio.”

There’s a lot you can do with some of these newer car infotainment systems – like Apple CarPlay, and Google’s Android Auto.

With this 2019 Dodge Ram, Bartlett says you can use your voice to set the temperature, navigate, make phone calls, or even send text messages.

All this, without picking up your phone, and taking your eyes off the road.

“You just speak to text,” Bartlett said.

Even though the device is connected to your cell phone, you can’t access most of your apps.

The ones you can are all audio, no video.

That’s for your safety.

While these devices are easy to use, AAA’s Karen Sanchez says they can still be a distraction.

“There’s still mental distraction,” Sanchez said. “How many times have you driven home from work, and you’re home, and you don’t even remember the route? So there’s still that mental distraction that happens when you text, even when it’s hands free.”

AAA says anytime drivers take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds, they double their risk of a crash.

“And it doesn’t take much time at all for that to happen,” Sanchez said.

That’s why it’s best to learn how to use this new technology before even getting out on the road.

“Go back out to your vehicle and touch every button,” Bartlett said. “Go over it again before you get on the road. Being on the road is no place to do that. Do it in the driveway. Learn it, get it. Find your favorites – your favorite spots, your favorite programs, and then when you’re on the road, then it’s secondhand.”

AAA says each year, more than 390,000 people are hurt, and 3,500 are killed in the U.S. from distracted driving alone.

Don’t be one of them.

Ultimately, you want this technology to help you, not hurt you.