Any responsible driver knows that there is a body of established ‘best practices’ for road-safety even beyond the stuff that’s in your driving test. One of these pieces of wisdom is that drivers should drive with an emergency kit somewhere in their car. That kit should typically contain:
- A map;
- A torch;
- De-Icer and an Ice Scraper;
- A First-aid kit;
- Warm Clothes / A Blanket;
- Jump Leads;
- A high-visibility warning triangle (to warn against accidents ahead);
- Any personal medication.
Other popular items include shovels, emergency supplies of non-perishable food and even sunglasses (no, really). These items are indispensible if you get stuck due to poor weather, or you or someone else on the road runs into trouble. Nonetheless, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts examines which apps for your iDevice or Android smartphone specifically become useful when you’re in a roadside emergency situation?
First and foremost, under no circumstances should you use any of the following apps if you’re going to wipe out your phone’s battery in the process. Your phone is most useful as a phone. That said, having a spare battery or a spare dumbphone can free your main phone up for messing around with power-guzzling apps. And, oh yeah, the worst thing you can do is use your car battery to charge your phone in most emergencies.
A Motoring Association App
Whilst not exactly a one-size fits all app, and whilst not all Motoring Association apps are created equal, many perform quite useful functions. The major feature of many such apps is the ability to use GPS to pinpoint your location and forward this information with your call to the repair truck – no more struggling to read street-names or estimating how far you are between junctions. Apps can also include traffic information, accident warnings, car service reminders and even links to car rental companies. Remember, if you’re not already a member, you’ll have to pay an additional emergency callout charge should you run into trouble.
A Sat Nav App
If you’re stuck in the car, but able to safely go in search of food, fuel or help, you’ll need a map. You already have Google Maps, and the above apps probably even have a maps function built in, so why get another app that does the same thing? The problem with these apps is that they’re all well and good when you have phone reception, but if you end up breaking down in a rural area with no signal and you can expect your map to be a void of grey nothingness.
In an emergency, you’ll need a map app with an extensive database of maps already on your phone. You can often get a GPS lock without a phone connection. “City Maps 2 Go” on iPhone and “MapDroyd” on Androi fit the bill, but you should also consider investing in the TomTom app or a similar dedicated Navigation app.
A “Dude, Where’s My Car?” App
Since we’re all about averting disasters, if only Ashton Kutcher had used a car locator app such as iPhone’s Take Me To My Car and Android’s “Dude Where’s My Car”. Simply set down a GPS marker next to your stricken car and find your way back when you walk off.
A DIY App
LitCharts offer a simple, no frills set of guides to typical roadside repair tasks in the iPhone app “Car Care & Roadside Emergencies”. “TuneyFish” is an equally notable option, whilst “Auto Repair Glossary” is another alternative on both iOS and Android, but if you have a connection and data to spare, consider Temple of Android’s Auto Repair Videos app. There are many more options than these I’ve already found, so don’t be afraid to find one that covers all the topics you need!
A Weather App
If you’re stuck in a flood or several feet of snow, your weather related woes are going to be kind of self evident. Nevertheless, a good weather app can give you an idea of how long treacherous weather may continue. Thankfully, the weather apps bundled with your phone are generally pretty robust – Apple’s iphone app offers you hourly forecasting. HTC’s weather app has all the basics, but will redirect you to Accuweather, and in general I would head to a third party on these platforms. Accuweather actually do a great mobile app in multiple platforms, covering hourly forecasts and satellite maps.
An App for Illnesses
Not every roadside emergency is about the troubles your vehicle gets into. If you or someone you’re travelling with is ill, and you’re unsure about what is wrong, there are plenty of apps to aid diagnosis of the problem (though none are a substitute for seeking medical attention immediately in an emergency). Of course, if you have a condition such as Diabetes, there are apps that can help you tell when you may need to seek urgent attention (Seen above, Vree is an example). For general use and diagnosis Android has Pocket Doctor and Medical Diagnosis & Treatment TR. A good iPhone app for non-professionals is the University of Maryland’s Medical Encyclopedia.
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