Distracted driving has continued to trend upward as a cause of automobile accidents in recent years, continuing a trend that goes back to the beginning of the cellular phone era. Since texting has taken off, it has gotten to be an even bigger issue, and 46 states now ban texting and driving, with 14 banning handheld device use while driving entirely. Even so, the issue continues to grow, with the number of deaths from distracted driving continuing to trend upward even in years when total fatal automobile deaths are down.
Luckily, Apple has taken a big step toward helping to make it easier to keep your eyes on the road and your hands off the phone while you are driving. The new feature automatically detects driving when it is turned on, which means it also automatically reinstates your alerts once you arrive.
When the new mode is activated, it detects motion and uses the speed and direction of the motion to decide if you are driving. When it detects driving, the alerts are silenced and the phone screen will not light up until you arrive at your destination. You can set messages to incoming contacts that let them know you are driving and that you will answer them when you arrive, or you can even set a list of special contacts whose messages will be allowed to come through, to make sure you are reachable in case of a true emergency.
This customizability of the feature, along with the fact that it can easily be switched on and off, are the first real signs that the mobile industry is taking this issue seriously from their side of the table. It means there are real alternatives out there to completely turning the phone off while driving that still allow for the use of navigation integration, Bluetooth streaming, and other uses that support driving safely.
One of the best reasons to be hopeful for the success of Apple’s ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode is that it is likely to lead to widespread adoption on other platforms if it is successful. Apple has innovated a number of features that other carriers were quick to pick up on, and this could be the next big trend.