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9 driving apps to make your commute better

These handy traffic, road trip and car insurance apps can make driving a breeze.

Chances are that if you’ve had a driving dilemma or need more convenience or organization for your drives, there’s an app for that. From helping you find the best parking to scouting out favorite restaurants along your route, these driving apps help your commute or road trip go smoothly.

1. BestParking: For parking

BestParking helps you park your car without the hassle and stress of finding a spot. While it doesn’t cover every city, even if your city isn’t supported, consider this app for occasional trips to a bigger city where you’re not as familiar with parking. BestParking is free to download for iPhone or Android smartphones.

  • What its best for: Finding the cheapest and most convenient parking garages, lots and airports.
  • Our favorite feature: This app provides details about each parking spot or garage, including hours, costs, payment methods, discounts and more.

2. Roadtrippers: For road trip planning

This app provides reviews for hotels, campgrounds and places you’d want to eat or see along your road trip. You can string all your stops together using a route-planning tool.

  • What its best for: Planning your stops along the road from start to finish before your journey and estimating how much actual time it will take.
  • Our favorite feature: This app allows you to access all the places you’ve been so you’ll never forget your favorite rest stop or hotel on the way.

3. Waze: For traffic and navigation

Waze is a community-based traffic and navigation app. It relies on community users inputting information as it happens. It’s available for free on both Apple and Android phones.

  • What its best for: Avoiding traffic jams and accidents and suggesting alternative routes to get you where you’re going faster.
  • Our favorite feature: You can find alerts reported by users like potholes, cars parked on the shoulder and speed traps. However, since warnings are posted by users, it might not be useful if you drive down rural or less-frequented roads.

Don’t want to drive at all? Waze Carpool lets you find other commuters and share the ride.

4. TomTom: For traffic and navigation

TomTom, one of the original GPS device brands, has an app for navigation that can run straight from your phone without the need for a separate device.

  • What its best for: Finding the shortest route to your destination and pointing out delays along the way.
  • Our favorite feature: This app has a red light camera and speed camera warnings to help you avoid getting a surprise ticket.

5. Root: For car insurance

Root is a unique app that lets you buy car insurance directly, rather than going through an agent. The Root app also tracks your driving behavior and set your rates according to its findings.

Once you download the app and sign up for the test drive, the app takes several weeks to score your driving, including your speed and braking habits. Then, you’ll be given your car insurance rate, or denied if you don’t meet Root’s safety standards.

You can find similar policies that track your driving skills, called telematics or pay-as-you-go car insurance.

  • What it’s best for: Offering car insurance based on how well you drive
  • Our favorite features: The simple driving scorecard and $25 per friend referral bonus

6. Metromile: For car insurance by the mile

Metromile’s app lets you pay by the mile for your car insurance. You can test-drive to see a quote with its Ride Along app.

You’ll be quoted a low base rate like $30 a month and a per-mile rate like six cents per mile. Each month, you only pay for the miles you drove from the previous month.

  • What it’s best for: Paying only for the miles you drive, best for low-mileage drivers
  • Our favorite feature: The app offers car diagnostics, parking and street-sweeping reminders, plus it lets you file an accident claim.

7. iOnRoad: For driver assistance

iOnRoad is a driver assistance tool. It works by monitoring the road ahead of you and providing a warning for possible dangers or potential collisions.

To use it, mount your phone on the windscreen so that the camera has an unobstructed view of the road ahead. iOnRoad requires at least a 1GHz processor. It works best on iPhone 6 or newer, Samsung Galaxy S VI or newer and LG G4 or newer. It can work on other phones, but the results aren’t guaranteed.

  • What its best for: Avoiding any accidents, collisions or road hazards as you’re driving.
  • Our favorite feature: You can set the app to save the video, so you’ll always have a record of any incidents.

8. Dash: For car maintenance

Dash connects your car’s engine with your smartphone. The app integrates with an on-board diagnostics device and displays information about your car’s performance and current state. The app is free but requires an on-board diagnostic device to work. They range in price from $10 to $99.

  • What its best for: Letting you know how efficiently you’re using gas, when regular maintenance is required and the meaning of each dashboard light. This is especially helpful for older cars without digital displays or fuel-efficient engines.
  • Our favorite feature: This app suggests changes to your habits to help you drive better.

9. Spotify: For music on the go

Spotify is a digital music streaming service that works like radio, but is transmitted over the Internet. You can make your own playlist or look up playlists of friends or musicians.

It’s free for the basic version, which can be used on your computer or phone, but does have occasional ads. Spotify Premium is free for the first three months and then $9.99 per month afterward.

  • What its best for: Streaming music you actually want to hear. No more silly presenters, loud ads or inescapable overplayed hits, just your kind of music.
  • Our favorite feature: Spotify “learns” your taste, and after a while will start giving you music that’s similar to what you’ve previously selected.

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    What to watch out for with driving apps

    Driving while using a phone is dangerous and can be illegal. Make sure you stay safe on the road by preparing for your trip.

    • Make sure you have your phone and apps set up before you start driving.
    • Get a good phone mounting bracket that lets you see your phone screen without distractions.
    • Connect the phone to your car’s stereo system through Bluetooth.

    How do driving apps protect my privacy?

    To find specifics about how each app protects your data, you can look at its privacy policy linked from the Apple or Google Play Store.

    Generally, you should see app privacy policies list or specify what information is stored and whether it’s transmitted and stored with encryption. The privacy policy also should include when the company might share that information with others.

    Every app on the Apple or Google Play Store must meet the app and developer criteria that Apple or Google requires, such as the app getting your consent before collecting user information.

    Bottom line

    Compare just a few of the many apps available to help make your daily commute and road trips a little easier. New driving apps come out all the time, so keep an eye out for new services that make driving and comparing car insurance easier.

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