We Need a ‘Driver Mode’ for the iPhone, Here’s Why
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While we already have an airplane mode that cuts off wireless connectivity to our smartphones to prevent interference with airplanes, the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is now recommending that smartphone makers like Apple introduce a ‘Driver Mode’ into their phones as well.
Millions of Americans are about to take to the road for the holidays, making safe driving a timely and pressing issue. A major culprit behind carelessness while driving is the smartphone, which has become an indispensable part of everyday life and an ever-present distraction. While drivers should already know to keep their eyes on the road, as smartphones have increased their functions and features, they’ve also become much more tempting to use, making them a menace to US highways.
“Your smartphone becomes so many different things that it’s not just a communication device,” Anthony Foxx, secretary of the Transportation Department, said to The New York Times. “Distraction is still a problem. Too many people are dying and being injured on our roadways.”
There was a historic 7.1% spike in fatal car crashes last year, with 35,092 people killed on the roads, according to the NHTSA. It was the largest annual increase in traffic deaths in fifty years. The regulatory agency estimates that 10% of all fatal automobile accidents in the US in 2014 involved at least one distracted driver. Distracted driving was also responsible for 18% of injury-causing crashes, and 16% of all traffic accidents that year.
As such, the NHTSA has issued a set of voluntary guidelines to reduce the occurrence of dangerous distracted driving, urging smartphone makers and developers to create a ‘Driver Mode’ that blocks access to certain apps (like games) or reduces their functionality. It would also simplify the smartphone interface so that the devices are easier to navigate for drivers. Such technology would need to be able to detect when the driver is using the smartphone so that it doesn’t limit passengers from using their devices.
Because the guidelines are voluntary, Apple and other smartphone makers are under no legal obligation to follow them. But many safety experts believe that a ‘Driver Mode’ is necessary, because smartphones have become just too alluring and distracting for some bored drivers to ignore. It’s not just about talking and texting anymore, but Bejeweled and FaceTime as well.
Do you believe the iPhone needs a ‘Driver Mode’?
Let us know why or why not in the comments below.