How Audible and Waze Are Making Audiobooks Safer

Improve your driving using books

Key Takeaways

  • Waze announced that it’s integrating its map software with Audible.
  • If you aren’t an Audible subscriber, there’s a wide range of other audiobook services to consider.
  • One study found that listening to audiobooks might improve awareness and reaction time on routine drives, but degrades reaction time on tricky drives.
Black mobile phone with map gps navigation fixed in the mounting
Witthaya Prasongsin / Getty Images

Your commute could get a little more interesting now that you can listen to Audible recorded books while navigating your car via the Waze app.

Waze announced recently that it is integrating its map software with Audible. The move means you can access your audiobooks through the Waze app's built-in audio player. Drivers say they’re happy to have a safe way to get their audiobook fix.

"For me, an audiobook transforms a routine drive into a valuable learning experience," Rob Howard, CEO of web development firm Howard Development & Consulting, said in an email interview. "So, it's a natural fit for an app like Waze, which many people will have open during driving anyway."

Audible Alternative Abound

To listen to Audible through Waze, you’ll need an Audible subscription. But if you aren’t a subscriber, there’s still a wide range of other audiobook services to consider. Spotify, for example, also offers audiobooks and integrates with the Waze app.

"One often-overlooked source of audiobooks is your local library," suggested Howard. "Many libraries have big catalogs of audiobooks that are free to borrow, so if you're seeking an alternative to Audible, that's where I'd start."

Audiobooks on Spotify

The app eStories offers 120,000 audiobooks and includes best-sellers and different genres. Jake Smith, managing director of automobile license plate company Absolute Reg, called it "intuitive, effortless to use, and handy even when you are driving" in an email interview.

"Its best feature is it's DRM free," Smith added, "and you are allowed to upload your audiobook in your library."

"For me, an audiobook transforms a routine drive into a valuable learning experience."

But if you want to avoid a standalone audiobook app, some users listen to books read on YouTube.

"I used the split-screen view to have the YouTube and Waze apps [open ]at the same time," Ludovic Chung-Sao, founder of soundproofing company Zen Soundproof, said in an email interview. "Waze was taking most of the room on my screen. An alternative is to sign up for YouTube Premium, which allows you to play YouTube on the background without the app being displayed."

Safe at Any Speed?

But is it safe to be listening to audiobooks while driving? One study found that listening to audiobooks might improve awareness and reaction time on routine drives, but degrade reaction time on trickier ones. 

Howard said he prefers to "turn down the music and other distractions if I'm navigating in an unusual area or trying to follow directions carefully." He added that "it's always important for the driver to understand what type of environment they're in and what level of focus they need on the details of their drive."

Arnold Chapman, who worked as a trucker for more than 20 years before becoming an online magazine publisher, said he believes the Audible app will be safe to use with Waze. "Waze users can easily control their Audible playback from their Waze app," he said in an email interview. "While enjoying their audiobooks, they are still able to see their driving directions from Audible’s interface."

"It's a natural fit for an app like Waze, which many people will have open during driving anyway."

The most dangerous part of using Audible in the car is fumbling with your handheld device, pointed out Melanie Musson, travel and insurance expert with 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com, in an email interview. "The Waze and Audible integration help to minimize the distraction of switching between apps," she added. 

But Aaron Simmons, founder of Test Prep Genie, said in an email interview that he doesn’t feel comfortable listening to audiobooks while driving. 

"Comprehending audiobooks is a lot more challenging than listening to a 4-minute pop track," he added. "It requires more focus and attention, which is not something you want to give to an audiobook instead of the road."

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