Thou Shalt Not Text and Drive

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I used to date a guy who began his day emailing on his Blackberry during his 7am commute. This would've been perfectly appropriate on the train. But he was doing this all while weaving in and out of NYC traffic like a race car driver, which made me (the passenger) seriously doubt whether this was a guy I could grow old with.

And with good reason: the National Safety Council reports that 28% of all traffic accidents are caused by drivers distracted by talking or texting on their cell phone. More than 30 states have enacted laws prohibiting cell phone use while driving, which of course is prompting trusty Mr. Market to come up with lots of new-fangled solutions to make driving and phones work better together.

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As part of National Safe Driving Month, Motorola asked us to try their new H17txt ear piece, a Bluetooth powered device that can read text messages and emails to you in real time and can automatically respond to messages for you so you can keep your hands and eyes free for other important things like driving.

I took the H17txt for a '??text drive'?, so to speak, and my experience was mixed.

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I tested the H17txt on both by iPhone and my husband'??s Blackberry because while the basic earpiece functions work on any Bluetooth enabled phone, the MotoSpeak powered hands free texting stuff only works on RIM (Blackberry) and Android phones.

The H17txt is beautiful, comfortable to wear, and paired easily with both the iPhone and Blackberry. I love that every time I turn on the H17, a nice sounding lady whispers in my ear '??phone 1 connected '?? battery level high'? (no I am not delusional '?? the H17 has these great aud

io prompts). I found the H17'??s sound quality to be crystal clear, a big improvement my old Plantronics ear piece. Its small, sleek design made me look modestly cool '?? a big achievement considering how easy it is to look like a big dork wearing these kinds of devices.

But all of these benefits aren'??t really a reason to buy the H17txt. Retailing for roughly $99, you are paying a premium to get the MotoSpeak text-to-speech features. So is the extra money is worth it?

Maybe, if you just can'??t wait to hear all your texts and emails. The H17txt did a remarkably good job of interpreting the strange language of texting, reading expressions like '??lol'? as '??laughing out loud'?, for example. It will also read your emails to you, and you can set up an auto-responder to let people know you'??ve heard their text or email but are driving, so will respond later.

Be warned, however, that I found setting up the H17'??s MotoSpeak features to be way too

complicated. Since the MotoSpeak functions are only supported on Blackberry and Android phones, I used my hubby'??s two year old Blackberry for the test. This required me to download the MotoSpeak application onto his phone, which was no big deal until we discovered we would first need to update his phone'??s operating system (the app requires version 4.5 and higher). The update took so long we had to leave the download going overnight. And then shortly after we got everything working, my hubby said he had to turn off the MotoSpeak application because having it run in the background was sucking the life out of his battery.

I imagine if I had tested on a newer Blackberry or Android phone, setting up and running the MotoSpeak application would have been no big deal. So if you do want to text while you drive, you should take a look at the H17txt '?? but be sure to get the latest Blackberry or Android along with it.

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Perhaps an even better idea is to just turn off or ignore your phone while you drive. Not only will it help you keep your eyes on the road, you will free up your ears to listen to the funny stuff coming out of your kids mouths!

Momtrends was not paid for this post. We did receive a H17txt for testing.

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