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Use Technology for its Intended Purpose: Safety

A Low-Tech Tool for Night-driving Survival

What happens if you're driving at night, bone-dead-tired, out in the middle of nowhere and hours from your destination? All the gadgetry in the world might not be able to help you, but a short nap could give you the second wind you need to make it home. If you must pull over to rest, do so in a well lit area, roll up your windows and lock your doors. An even better option is to take a nap before you leave [source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration].

Remember a few pages back where we said to leave the gadgets alone? Well, we need to qualify that statement -- because sometimes gadgets can be life savers. Just make sure you're at a complete stop (parked) when you use them.

Among the gadgets that can get you out of a late-night predicament:

  • A cell phone lets you call for help in the event of a breakdown, accident, or even if you're too tired or tipsy to drive
  • A GPS navigation system can prevent you from getting lost in a shady area; many units have a nighttime setting that inverts light and dark colors -- making the unit easier to read at night and also less distracting
  • Integrated "telematics" systems such as Toyota's Entune and Ford Sync can provide directions not only for where you are, but to the nearest rest stop, police station, or motel at which to rest your weary head; and of course, there's the granddaddy of major carmaker telematics systems -- GM's OnStar, which can automatically detect if you've been in an accident and call emergency services for you
  • On some higher-end cars, infra-red night vision is available; these systems can spot obstacles, people and animals seconds before they enter the range of your vehicle's headlights, providing crucial added reaction time
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