Listen to email handsfree - US state laws on mobile phones and driving

Q: How about US laws on mobile phones and driving?

A: Mobile phone driving laws vary by state, and a good summary map is available here

Handsfree states

You must only use your phone handsfree if you live in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, or West Virginia. That means you can use Speaking Email to read your inbox out to you but not archive, star or reply. You can listen to your emails, which will be read out in order of your inbox with unread first, but not swipe or tap the screen. 

In most states you are able to tap your phone screen if you have it mounted as part of a handsfree setup. Tapping the screen triggers voice command listening, so it's recommended to get a phone holder.

There are a couple of settings and preferences you may like to switch on if for best handsfree usage. 

  • Preference - Enable voice commands (already on by default)
  • Preference - Read next email automatically (already on by default)
  • Preference - Finish when reply detected (this skips to the next email when the end of the email is reached, including the start of a reply or forward thread or an email signature)
  • Preference - Play unplayed emails first (this means it will not read out the same email again ever - it will read out new emails or any emails you have not previously listened to)
  • Preference - Mark as Read when speaking (you may wish to turn this on to mark any emails you've listened to as "read" on your mail server - many people like to have them still unread when they get to their desk but its up to you)

Less restrictive states

You can use all features of Speaking Email in most other states. The following states do not require hands-free mobile phone usage:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

We believe it will be OK to use all features of Speaking Email in these states, provided it is not causing a distraction. Speaking Email does not allow you to type or require any complex interactions - its nothing like texting and driving, which is banned in many states.

(Compiled from IIHS, current as at September 2015)

What is Speaking Email?

An app for iPhone and Android that reads your email out loud to you. It intelligently extracts content from emails (minus the signatures, disclaimers and threads). And it lets you action your email - archive, mark-as-read, trash, flag, reply, or forward. It can be completely by voice command, or use the large on-screen buttons or full screen touch gestures.

Who is it for?

People with blindness or visual impairment. People who are busy and run out of time to get through their inbox. People who want to make productive use of time when driving between appointments.

Do you have Apple CarPlay?

See our other product Speaking Email CarPlay.

Find out more