Driving while talking or texting on a cell phone is now illegal in many Canadian provinces.  If you a) haven’t figured out your Bluetooth (or never remember to charge the batteries), or b) can’t seem to get off the phone in the car, we’ll give you a few options.  Urbanmommies spoke with Corporal Dale Somerville of the RCMP, who verified a few points for us as stated in section 214.1 of the Motor Vehicle Act.   Holding and talking on a mobile device while driving will now cost you $167.  Texting or emailing while holding a mobile device will cost you $167, plus 2 points off of your license.  Hands-free devices are allowed provided you only touch one button on the earpiece in order to answer or dial.  Ouch.  For busy moms who are used to returning calls in the car… what do you do?

If the safest option – blocking  your phone signal when you reach a driving speed is not an option, try this.  Drivesafe.ly is a Blackberry application that reads text messages and emails and lets the sender know that you have heard the message, but are currently driving and cannot respond immediately.  Aside from the obviously humourous times when your husband texts a dirty message during a meeting and you have forgotten to turn off the feature.. it’s a pretty neat app.

For the iPhone, you have a few more options.  Courtney Gibson, a Toronto Engineer and technology aficionado, offered two options.  You can either hold down the “Home” button (just below the screen) on your phone, or if you are using a hands-free device, press the talk button on the headset for a few seconds and then speak a command once it beeps.  (“Call Micky Mouse”)  If you have more than one number stored in your phonebook, it’ll ask you to clarify which one (“Calling Micky Mouse.  Home or Mobile?”  “Mobile.”  “Calling Micky Mouse, Mobile….”).

Hmmm.  Do you like to make lists in the car?  Gibson also mentioned that there’s a nice, free application from Dragon Dictate that came out a few weeks ago.  You can do full voice dictation into it – but you then need to cut and paste the text into an e-mail or SMS message: it’s not fully integrated yet (and it also relies on having a data connection for doing the speech recognition) but it is great for making a shopping list and using your car time wisely.  Just make sure you still pay attention to the road.  And don’t be looking for any applications that can apply lipstick and open the mail.

– Jill Amery is still learning how to use her technology wisely.