Distracted driving was a problem even before we all had smartphones buzzing in our pockets. But it's an even bigger issue now, and one that Garmin wants to help solve with its new Drive line of sat navs that include improved driver awareness features alerting you to possible concerns on the road ahead. That's not to say that while using one of the new Garmin Drive portable navigation devices you can take your eyes off the road completely. But they will keep you informed of hazards you may not have spotted yet like upcoming sharp curves in the road, railroad or animal crossings, red lights and speed cameras, traffic jams you're quickly approaching, and even alerts if you've pulled onto a one-way street going the wrong direction.
Ranging in price from $US130 ($181) to $US150 ($209) and available sometime in the first quarter of 2016, the Drive line starts on the low end with the basic Garmin Drive that includes preloaded data for restaurants, stores, and other points of interest from Foursquare, and spoken navigation directions that guide users by referencing easy to spot landmarks like buildings or traffic lights.
Stepping up from that is the Garmin DriveSmart which adds smartphone connectivity so drivers can get call and text message notifications right on the navigator's touchscreen, use it as a Bluetooth speakerphone to answer or place calls, and get real-time traffic and weather updates through a Garmin app that mooches data from their mobile device. Smart.
The Garmin DriveAssist adds a dash cam with a built-in microSD-based DVR for recording incidents on the road. In the event of an accident, the sat nav will detect the impact and automatically save the footage leading up to the collision so you can use it as an infallible eyewitness. The camera is also used to keep an eye on stopped traffic ahead of your vehicle, reminding you when it gets going again if you get distracted. And when you arrive at your destination, a live video feed will pop-up on screen with arrows pointing at your exact destination.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Garmin DriveLuxe which wraps the navigation device, and all of those aforementioned features, in a pricey forged metal housing so it won't look out of place when mounted in a luxury vehicle with a high-end interior. Most luxury vehicles already come with a touchscreen satellite navigation system built right into the dashboard, but in terms of features few can compare to what Garmin has incorporated into its aftermarket solutions.
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