There has been plenty in the media about driver distractions. You’re not allowed to use a hand-held phone for calling or texting while driving, and you are not allowed to access apps for communications, but setting your emails to be read to you while you are driving, as long as you don’t interact with the phone, is not against the law. So, we trialled a piece of software called Speaking Email for iPhone.
The software works with Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook and IMAP accounts and has easy swipe and tap functionality to dismiss or archive mail. The software reads the email aloud (you can adjust the reading speed), and is intelligent enough to skip signatures and boilerplate information. You can have it read the recipients to the email, and it will check email in the background and read any new ones to you as they come in.
The app connected to my car via Bluetooth so the email was read via the car’s speakers. Simply set the email playing before you move away from the kerb, and you can set it to read a maximum number of emails or stop when it reaches a reply.
There are buttons for quick reply, but this would definitely be against the law to use as you have to operate the software to do it.
The current laws around using mobile phones while driving are:
- It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving.
- This includes using your mobile phone to follow a map, read a text or check social media. This applies even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
- You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.
- If you’re caught using a handheld phone while driving, you’ll get 3 penalty points on your licence and a fine of £100.
- If you get just 6 points in the first two years after passing your test, you will lose your licence.
- You may use a hands-free phone while driving but you can still be prosecuted if you’re not in proper control of your vehicle. The penalties are same as being caught using a handheld phone.
- The penalties for driving carelessly or dangerously when using a handheld or hands-free phone can include disqualification, a large fine and up to two years imprisonment.
The app wasn’t only useful for driving, but while making dinner and walking to the supermarket.