Apple CarPlay: The safe way to text and drive?

Apple CarPlay: The safe way to text and drive?

A new smartphone technology is promising a safe way to text and drive.

The Apple CarPlay system has recently been introduced in New Zealand, and it's hoped it will reduce the number of cellphone-related crashes.

Most of us have done it, even if we don't want to admit it. And if we haven't, it's safe to say we've been tempted too. But now there's a safer way to text and drive.

"Apple CarPlay is all about minimising distractions and minimising the temptation for drivers to pick up their phone," says Volvo Cars New Zealand national manager Coby Duggan.

The new technology reads aloud and replies to text messages via voice control or a button on the steering wheel.

The phone's software is also visible on the car's dashboard, eliminating the need to touch the handset.

"The Siri system is still what drives it, and the graphics are still very familiar," says Mr Duggan. "So the graphics that you'll see are essentially a stripped-down version of what you'd have on your Apple smartphone."

There were 168 crashes involving cellphones resulting in death or injury between 2012 and 2014. Provisional data shows mobiles contributed to least five fatal crashes this year.

Police are investigating whether a double fatality near Tokoroa on Boxing Day could be another.

The AA says 15 percent of its members have admitted to using their cellphone illegally in the past six months. It agrees hands-free kits do make it safer for drivers, but says it's best to avoid using your cellphone behind the wheel altogether.

"Even hands-free takes focus away from your driving," says the AA's Dylan Thomsen. "We know you're realistically about four times more likely to be involved in a crash if you're using your phone."

The new technology was rolled out to Volvo customers in November, but can be installed in other vehicles.

"I believe most of the key head unit manufacturers like Pioneer offer head units that will provide that functionality," says Mr Duggan.

Currently Apple users are the only winners, but a similar software for Android users is also on the cards.

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