Cars & Phones

  • Why Aren’t Seniors Using Uber More?

    Why Aren’t Seniors Using Uber More?

    This summer Uber, the ridehail company, will pay 175 people in seven U.S. and Canadian cities $1,000 to ditch their cars for a month and use alternate transportation. They call it “One Less Car.” A lot of people may sign up, but chances are they will not be ages 60 and above. There is a…

  • A Fusion of Car and Smartphone

    A Fusion of Car and Smartphone

    Are we driving our phones or listening to our cars? It’s not quite that simple but there is convergence. The problem is that they know us better than we know them.

  • Smartphones and Cars Blend… (or brick)

    Smartphones and Cars Blend… (or brick)

    As smartphones and cars continue to blend it seems like phones are the technology, for now, that goes the extra mile.  More than 25 years ago, Frances Cairncross, the media editor for the Economist, pronounced the “death of distance.” Cars have become the ultimate smartphone with their large touchscreens, automatic crash reporting, and collection of…

  • Cars That Snitch? Telematics 101

    Cars That Snitch? Telematics 101

    Learning that your car is snitching on you and sending data to a third party is odious. But it joins other technologies, called telematics, that reveal where we go and how we get there. The capability to track a vehicle comes from years of academic and military research. The mission of telematics 101 began with…

  • Getting Lost with QR Codes

    Getting Lost with QR Codes

    Accessibility is at the foundation of transportation policy, but a minor technology seems to be obstructing the path, at least when it comes to wayfaring.  The signage for wayfaring and orienting travelers is increasingly populated with QR codes and it may be getting us lost. QR (quick response) codes are encountered when transit riders need…

  • The Hidden Screen: Kids In Cars

    The Hidden Screen: Kids In Cars

    You might remember when Mom told you not to read in the car because it would make you carsick, but what would she say today? Well before they are able to read words, young children are engrossed with the dashboard display, aka the big screen in the front seat.  Kids and screens are getting together…

  • The Big Freeze: Storytelling for Electric Vehicles

    The Big Freeze: Storytelling for Electric Vehicles

    Baby it’s cold outside….but the EV stories are heating up. Particularly the ones that favor the status quo.

  • Smiles or Miles: Highway Message Boards

    Smiles or Miles: Highway Message Boards

    Airline passengers are used to seeing those funny safety videos before they take-off, memorable clips of penguins tightening their seatbelts or diving for oxygen masks. But If you are traveling by car, you are going to be seeing more messages that tell you to buckle up, and fewer messages that are going to make you…

  • Smartphone for Bad Sense of Direction

    Smartphone for Bad Sense of Direction

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: Do you think it’s ok for me to take a job driving Uber or Lyft even though I have a horrible sense of direction? I feel turned around and get lost very easily. My family always makes fun of this and acts surprised if I show up on time!  I’ll have to…

  • Do Boaters Need Smartphones?

    Do Boaters Need Smartphones?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I was having a drink at my favorite restaurant- it overlooks the Bay and we placed our order from tablets on each table. The wait staff was taking orders from a boat tied up to the dock. They called in from a built-in device that looked like a walkie-talkie on a cord.…

  • Is Smartphone Entry a Target for Car Thieves?

    Is Smartphone Entry a Target for Car Thieves?

    High-end cars open doors with just a Bluetooth enabled phone connection. Does that make them easier to steal? Or does it just make you pull out your phone more often?

  • Nomophobia and Grandma

    Nomophobia and Grandma

    Grandma panicked when we lost cell service on the road. Was it the road trip or was it a case of senior nomophobia?!

  • Is Texting Distracting?

    Is Texting Distracting?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I got pulled over by a CHP (California Highway Patrol) officer when I was stopped but looking down at my phone. For me, texting is not distracting. I was waiting at a long red light and reading an urgent text sent by our babysitter. Did I really do anything wrong here? The…

  • iPad and Kid’s Travel

    iPad and Kid’s Travel

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: Over the holidays my mother, my son, and I plan to fly to Texas and then take the train back home. We have a difference of opinion about things to keep a four-year old busy with during the trip. My mother wants to pack a bag of toys and games, but I…

  • Shop for Phone Deals

    Shop for Phone Deals

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I work as a nanny for a family in the Bay Area but I plan to return to my home country (Germany) in three or four years. The family I work for got me my own iPhone and we text each other all day long. But I plan to get a second…

  • Phones and Online Gambling

    Phones and Online Gambling

    On the way to grandma’s house, with a phone app and assignment?

  • Mobile Ticket and Phone

    Mobile Ticket and Phone

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I am turning 65 next month and plan to do some bucket list travel, mostly in Europe. But my first step is getting my senior travel card (the Clipper) here in San Francisco as it gives me a 50 percent discount.  I am happy to have a mobile ticket and phone. My…

  • Is  Web Camera in Car a Good Idea?

    Is Web Camera in Car a Good Idea?

    Always looking ahead! Should I think about a webcam?

  • Digital Drivers License on Phone

    Digital Drivers License on Phone

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: When I was at the Sky Harbor airport (in Phoenix)  last week I saw something that surprised me. The person ahead of me in the security line showed his driver’s license through his phone. He did not have to fumble for his wallet, pull out the card, and put it away after…

  • Do I Need a Parking App?

    Do I Need a Parking App?

    “I would have missed the graduation if I had spent time downloading the app…”

  • Roadtrip with Phone Apps

    Roadtrip with Phone Apps

    Ready for a summer road-trip? Grab your phone but read this first!

  • Can’t Turn Off Bluetooth

    Can’t Turn Off Bluetooth

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I consider myself fairly informed with tech so I can’t figure out why my phone is always turning itself ‘on’ to Bluetooth. I turn the Bluetooth ‘off’. Next time I pick up the phone it is back ‘on’. It feels like the phone overrides what I want. BTW, I have an Apple…

  • Is the Role of Concierge Dead?

    Is the Role of Concierge Dead?

    Is the concierge dead…and is the smartphone the killer?

  • Drivers Hold Phones…Why?

    Drivers Hold Phones…Why?

    Take time to make a real connection between your car, your phone, and your brain!

  • Travel Column Highlights and Lowlights…

    Travel Column Highlights and Lowlights…

    Is it really a vacation if you can’t leave your phone at home?

  • Cell Phone in the Car?

    Cell Phone in the Car?

    Dad and husband are hung up on my car phone. Cannot hang it up!

  • Are Paper Maps Obsolete?

    Are Paper Maps Obsolete?

    The paper map and the digital map are both useful visualizations- use them in concert with each other.

  • Digital Passport on Smartphone?

    Digital Passport on Smartphone?

    Are Smartphones the New Requirement for International Travel?

  • Phones Don’t Work in Emergency

    Phones Don’t Work in Emergency

    The power went out….the phone line went down….what next?

  • Safe to Bike Post Covid?

    Safe to Bike Post Covid?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone, I was getting my bike fixed, and they showed me a copy of the op-ed you wrote during Covid about commuters and ebikes. I know there are rules about driving and bikes- what about ebikes and phones?! Do you still think it is safe to bike post Covid? I am worried about…

  • Trip Planning Online?

    Trip Planning Online?

    Back on the road again…should it be on the screen?

  • Should Bicyclists Bring Smartphones?

    Should Bicyclists Bring Smartphones?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I just got a high-end, aluminum frame bicycle and plan to do more local cycling by myself, and also with a club. I am conflicted about whether bicyclists should bring smartphones on the trip. I can easily store the phone in a saddle-bag under the seat, but should I take a phone…

  • Vaccination Record on Phone?

    Vaccination Record on Phone?

    “Don’t Leave Home Without It?”…..does that apply to the vaccination card?

  • Phones Morphing into Cars?

    Phones Morphing into Cars?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: Are phones becoming cars or vice versa? My friend took me out for a ride in his new car and whipped out a phone when he wanted to unlock the doors and move it  forward a few feet. Then I read in the news this week that Apple, the company that makes…

  • Booking Trips for Parents?

    Booking Trips for Parents?

    Breaking news! Aug. 20: An appeals court has allowed ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft to continue treating their drivers in CA as independent contractors while an appeal works its way through the court.

  • How to Find A Local Business

    How to Find A Local Business

    “Looking for out-of-town information….coming up short”

  • Are Drivers Less Distracted?

    Are Drivers Less Distracted?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: Just curious. Traffic seems better because there are  fewer cars on the road. But, now that we are all staying at home more, are we  less distracted when we get in our cars too?  Tommy, San Francisco I get your point that people are spending so much time at home during the…

  • Uber for Flip-phone?

    Uber for Flip-phone?

    Are you able to get Uber or Lyft if you only have a flip phone?

  • Hands-Free Enforcement?

    Hands-Free Enforcement?

    Delivery driver says the phone is a lifeline …hands-free, seriously?

  • Hands-Free Necessary?

    Hands-Free Necessary?

    Hands-free an option for older phone and older car?

  • Fake News and Smartphones

    Fake News and Smartphones

    A prankster creates Fake Road Traffic with a set of Smartphones…

  • Phone Watch for Me?

    Phone Watch for Me?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I have never worn a phone watch, and am old enough to remember when Dick Tracy, the comic strip detective did have one. I see lots of folks my age wearing these watches and I am wondering if there are useful things to do with them or it just for style?  My…

  • Phones & RideHail?

    Phones & RideHail?

    Is it rude to the driver if I make a phone call during an Uber trip? What’s the etiquette here?

  • Older People And New Cars?

    Older People And New Cars?

    Mom and Dad are getting older. Do they need a safer car?

  • Privacy & Teen Drivers

    Privacy & Teen Drivers

    Data logger could expose teen’s bad driving behavior…or coach her to driver safer. What about her data privacy?

  • Pedestrian Safety & Phone

    Pedestrian Safety & Phone

    It’s crazy out there…phones, cars, and pedestrians. Heads up and more.

  • Safe Walk to School or Phone?

    Safe Walk to School or Phone?

    Mom worries about using phones and earbuds when kids walk to school.

  • Should Citizens Use Phones to Report Traffic Violations?

    Should Citizens Use Phones to Report Traffic Violations?

    Some communities will let private citizens upload pictures of traffic violations..what’s next?

  • Is Passenger Phone Safe to Answer?

    Is Passenger Phone Safe to Answer?

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I noticed that you often take questions about drivers using phones. How about the case when a passenger uses their phone in the car, but someone else is driving them? Is this a safety issue or is it OK to do? TT, San Francisco Dear TT: You question caught me off-guard, probably…

  • Phones and Handsfree

    Phones and Handsfree

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: I had a near-miss when texting. I will no longer be driving this way! It turns out that the lease on my car is about to expire so what would be a better choice when I go car-shopping? Quentin, Sausalito Dear Quentin: I don’t do vehicle research, but I can guide you…

  • Phone and Driver

    Phone and Driver

    Dear Ms. Smartphone: Why do I feel the need to answer my phone when I am in the car? I know it is not safe, but I still feel the need to pick up the call. I feel so conflicted by this. K.P, San Francisco Dear K.P. You didn’t state your age, but before smartphones…

  • Who Drives the GPS?

    Who Drives the GPS?

    DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: WHEN I DRIVE WITH MY BOYFRIEND HE LIKES TO USE HIS SMARTPHONE TO GIVE ME DIRECTIONS. BUT HE  TURN DOWN THE VOLUME, AND THEN FORGETS TO REPEAT SOME OF THE INFORMATION. THEN HE GETS MAD AT ME FOR MISSING TURNS! Annie, Antioch Dear Annie: It sounds like a control issue but no…

  • Dear Smartphone: Rideshare Safety

    Dear Smartphone: Rideshare Safety

    DEAR MS.SMARTPHONE: I COMMUTE INTO SF  AND I ALSO TAKE A LOT OF RIDESHARE TRIPS. THIS TIME OF YEAR THERE’S A LOT OF FOCUS ON DRIVING SOBER AND SAFELY. I’VE NOTICED THAT UBER AND LYFT DRIVERS SPEND A LOT OF TIME ON THEIR PHONE AND I SEE THEM CLICKING TO FIND NEW ROUTES, ADD AND…

  • Dear Smartphone: Is Map Skill Overkill?

    DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: MY SISTER AND I DISAGREE ON THIS ISSUE. WE WERE BOTH TAUGHT TO READ MAPS WHEN WE TOOK A FAMILY CAR  TRIP. MY SISTER SAYS TIMES HAVE CHANGED AND WE CAN RELY ON THE MAPS ON OUR PHONES.  I THINK THAT MAP READING SKILLS ARE VALUABLE AND SCHOOLS SHOULD CONTINUE TO TEACH…

  • Dear Smartphone: Phones + School + Bus?

    Dear Smartphone: Phones + School + Bus?

    DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE:  MY TWO CHILDREN TAKE THE SCHOOL BUS EVERY MORNING AND AFTERNOON. I HAVE HEARD FROM ANOTHER PARENT THAT THE KIDS ARE USING THEIR PHONES ON THE BUS TO WATCH VIDEOS OR GOSSIP. DO YOU THINK THAT THIS SHOULD BE ALLOWED?  Kira, Cambridge Dear Kira: School bus travel has always seemed like the…

  • Dear Smartphone: Rideshare Rusty Wazes?

    Dear Smartphone: Rideshare Rusty Wazes?

    DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: YOU MENTIONED A FEW WEEKS BACK THAT YOU WOULD FOLLOW UP ON USING SMARTPHONES TO GET TO WORK… WHAT GIVES? Rusty, Palo Alto Dear Rusty:  Glad that you keep me on my toes, and I elevated your earlier post (see below).  Totally get that you want to use pooled rideshare, but it…

  • Dear Smartphone: Rideshare is Not Work Friendly

    Dear Smartphone: Rideshare is Not Work Friendly

    DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: THIS MORNING I MISSED MY TRAIN TO WORK BECAUSE I TOOK RIDESHARE, BUT I SELECTED THE POOL/LINE OPTION. SO,THE DRIVER HAD TO MAKE TWO ADDITIONAL STOPS BEFORE  WE GOT TO THE CALTRAIN. I REALLY WANT TO USE SHARE TRIPS TO REDUCE MY CARBON FOOTPRINT AND TRAFFIC CONGESTION, BUT I AM CONFLICTED.  Rusty, Palo…

  • Dear Smartphone:  A European Holiday with or without iPhone?

    Dear Smartphone: A European Holiday with or without iPhone?

    DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: I’M ABOUT TO EMBARK ON MY FIRST EUROPEAN VACATION AND I’M STRUGGLING WITH THE DECISION WHETHER OR NOT TO BRING MY iPHONE. WHILE I DO WANT TO ENJOY MY VACATION I’M NERVOUS ABOUT FOLKS NOT BEING ABLE TO REACH ME. WHAT SHOULD I DO? AZ, Sausalito Dear AZ: I would not let…

  • Dear Smartphone: Older People Do Rideshare?

    DEAR MS SMARTPHONE:  I AM POSTING FOR MY GRANDMA, ROSAE. SHE IS 81 AND QUITE HEALTHY. SHE LIVES ALONE IN A BIG SUBURB WHERE THERE IS NOT A LOT OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. I TELL HER THAT SHE NEEDS TO GET A NEW PHONE AND USE RIDESHARE TO TRAVEL AROUND. SHE IS RESISTANT TO THE IDEA.…

  • Dear Smartphone: Travel Apps

    DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: IN YOUR OPINION, WHICH PHONES- APPLE OR ANDROID- ARE BETTER FOR USERS WHO WANT TO USE TRANSIT APPS?  Nick, Omaha  NE. Dear Nick: It is the policy of Dear Ms. Smartphone to not endorse particular brands or recommend operating systems.  Whichever phone you pick, the key is to  become knowledgeable and informed…