Apps for Smarter Driving

These smartphone apps put resources and reminders at your fingertips.

Traffic jams, getting lost, expensive repairs, parking tickets—these headaches can take the pleasure out of cruising in your car. But these smartphone apps can help road warriors conquer some common pet peeves.

Waze (iPhone, Android, free)
Traffic jams and accidents can appear out of the blue, but with Waze, you can stay one step ahead of the crowd. Waze calls itself  “the world’s fastest-growing community-based traffic and navigation app,” meaning you and your fellow drivers work together to communicate road conditions using the Waze app as your virtual headquarters. You can receive alerts before you approach police, accidents, road hazards or traffic jams, all reported by other drivers in real time. The app’s editors are constantly updating maps, so you can find the best, safest route to your destination.

RoadNinja (iPhone, Android, free)
Road warriors, meet RoadNinja—together, you can make road trips easier and more enjoyable. The app shows the points of interest that lay ahead at upcoming freeway exits, so you can either map out your trip in advance, or find food, lodging and other adventures as you travel. You can also use RoadNinja to share your recommendations via social media sites.

RepairPal (iPhone, Android, free)
The only thing worse than car trouble is being overcharged for repairs. Rely on RepairPal for accurate automotive maintenance information and fair pricing. This app gives you a reasonable price range for repairs based on the make and model of your car, and it uses Google Maps integration to help you find local auto shops, towing companies and roadside assistance services. Need more info? Search the database of articles, reports and references from repair experts and other car owners.

Honk (iPhone, $0.99)
This app is a lifesaver for drivers who rack up parking tickets or wander around looking for their cars. As soon as you park, set the cartoon meter for the amount of time you’re allowed to stay in the spot, and choose how much advance warning you want before the alarm goes off. When your time is nearly up, the app will honk. It also uses a GPS tracker to record the location of your car, and it lets you log a photo of the exact spot. You can even add handwritten notes—“Just east of Broadway,” for example—to help you remember precisely where you parked.

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