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Campaign For Driver-Friendly Smartphones Launched

People-OnTheGo recommends short cut keys that are easy to identify and press without looking, speed dialing capability, voice dialing capability, and voice memo features.

People-OnTheGo on Tuesday launched an educational campaign that encourages smartphone users to drive responsibly and promotes driver-friendly features.

The campaign targets a group of mobile users that's always connected to the office, whether it's e-mail, Internet access, or work in business applications. Such users have a difficult time disconnecting from their busy lives even when they're driving, according to People-OnTheGo, an organization that specializes in productivity training and smartphone research.

"As state governments begin to enforce the safe use of mobile phones in cars through 'hands free' laws and other regulations, it becomes even more essential that smartphone buyers look for phones with key features that minimize handling of the device while operating it in the car," said Pierre Khawand, the organization's founder and CEO, in a statement.

In a recent study of 902 cell phone user-drivers in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, states that outlaw the use of cell phones while driving, Harris Interactive found that 72% of them have a hands-free product, while 38% of the drivers talk on their hand-held phones. Just 14% use hands-free gear while driving.

People-OnTheGo encourages people to look for smartphones with driver-friendly features that can be used for quick-glance, single-hand, and hands-free operation in the car. These include short cut keys that are easy to identify and press without looking, speed dialing capability, voice dialing capability, and a voice memo feature that lets drivers record voice notes instead of typing them.

Among the smartphones tested by People-OnTheGo from phone makers, such as Research In Motion, Apple, Palm, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and the major wireless carriers, no model stood out as a winner in all areas. Therefore, smartphone users need to first identify the functions they use frequently in the car and evaluate smartphones based on those functions, according to the campaign.

People-OnTheGo found that BlackBerry smartphones rank high when it comes to speed dialing. Specific models like the BlackBerry Pearl offer voice dialing and recording features, but due to the lack of a full QWERTY keyboard, pressing the keys isn't easy. The keys are easier to identify on BlackBerry 8700 and BlackBerry 8800 models.

Treo smartphones also rank high in speed dialing, but the keys aren't as easy to identify and press compared to BlackBerry smartphones.

Windows Mobile-based devices offer the most driver-friendly features, but the quality and capabilities of their voice dialing and voice recording features varies.

Although user-friendly, Apple's iPhone is not recommended for drivers since it relies on touch-screen technology and requires users to constantly glance at the screen to execute common tasks.

As part of its campaign, People-OnTheGo provided several other (obvious but often disregarded) tips for safe and responsible smartphone use: Glance once at the screen but don't stare, get information ready on the phone before heading out, use a headset or wireless phone speaker system, use speed dialing and voice dialing, record voice notes, don't type and drive, and stop the car if necessary.

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