Syncing Your Phone and Your Car: Good or Bad?

A person driving in the rain.

Phone syncing as a feature in newer automobiles has enabled drivers throughout the state to continue to use their phones with their hands at the ten and two position on the wheel. Integrating your cell phone with your car has lots of potential pluses. The main one is that it’s easier and less distracting to access information you need while driving – like directions or contact information uploaded from your phone’s calendar.

And while using smartphone apps on the road is the norm – especially if your car comes with an app such as Android Auto, which replicates certain apps on the vehicle’s infotainment screen – phone syncing may introduce some possible downsides, as well.

What is Phone Syncing?

Most new cars today allow for some form of phone syncing, enabling drivers to connect their phones to their cars. The use of devices while behind the wheel is a complex issue, however. According to recent research, 1.6 million accidents every year result from cell phone use while driving.

One purpose of phone syncing is so drivers can take a necessary call while at a stoplight, or on a long stretch of road, without compromising their ability to drive safely. If you choose to sync your car and phone, be sure to do so while the car is parked. Generally, the process requires a few simple steps such as these:

  1. Turn on the car radio or stereo, as well as your cell phone.
  2. In your phone’s settings app, select connected devices to be sure that “Bluetooth” is selected.
  3. Pair the two devices. This step may require selecting the Bluetooth pairing button on your car stereo, pairing your car’s name on your phone, or both.
  4. You may need to check “available devices” to locate your car or follow other instructions in your vehicle.

How Does Arizona’s “Hands Off” Law Affect GPS Phone Syncing?

It is illegal in Arizona to talk or text on a cellphone while driving. This led the state to promote a “hands off” rule that mandates that drivers only use their devices when in a hands-free mode.

Arizona’s law against cell phone use while driving is intended to keep drivers from using a cellphone or a stand-alone electronic device while driving. Still, they are allowed to use their phones if they are in a hands-free mode. This rule may apply to cell phones, tablets, music and gaming devices. A “stand-alone electronic device” is one that stores audio or video data files that can be retrieved on demand in a vehicle.

Drivers are still typically allowed to:

  1. Engage and disengage a function such as a GPS route
  2. Start, answer or end a call
  3. Talk on a wireless device using an earpiece, headphone or device worn on the wrist
  4. Use a device for navigation
  5. Use a device in an emergency to request help or report a crime

What Are the Potential Downsides of Phone Syncing in Your Car?

Drivers may opt out of phone syncing for a variety of reasons. They may prefer to use earbuds or the speakerphone feature with audio coming from the phone, not their car. In some cars, these options provide better clarity than the car’s built-in device. Or – the safest option – some drivers choose not to take calls or use any devices at all until they reach their destination.

As with any online technology, there may be potential downsides to syncing your phone to your car. Here are a few concerns shared by drivers who opt out of this feature:

  • Hacking. Some cell phone users worry syncing will allow their vehicle to store personal information that may be accessible to hackers. They caution that hackers can gather your data by connecting their phone to your car’s Bluetooth system.
  • Personal information out of your hands. The concern is also that information like your name, navigation history and stored addresses might remain with a car’s GPS without your knowledge.
  • Rental Cars. Even syncing to a rental car may leave personal information in the hands of strangers. These same cell phone users caution that the next renter might be able to access your financial accounts, locate your home, or even steal your identity.

Exercise Caution When Syncing Your Phone in Any Vehicle

There are ways to enjoy your favorite tunes safely after uploading them from your phone for a long drive. As with any phone use, it should be done when you are parked, before you hit the road. As for rental cars, it’s possible to delete a device’s information from the car before you return it. The same goes with a friend’s car or any rideshare programs you frequently use.

Keep in mind that any distraction while driving, however minor, can lead to an accident. While no one expects that to happen, be sure you’re covered with comprehensive auto insurance that protects you and your loved ones.

Whether to sync your phone is up to you. Visit AZ Auto for more information on insuring your auto today.