There’s some great news for preventing distracted driving. Apple recently announced that their iOS 11 for iPhone and iPad and some earlier versions have a feature that disables texting and turns off other alerts and distractions while driving.
The new feature places all your devices in a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode. This feature was put in place to combat the very dangerous practice of texting while driving, while also switching off other alerts that entice people to look at their phones while behind the wheel.
I can’t tell you how happy I am with this important development. Quite simply, it can save lives by preventing thousands of motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving.
How does the “Do Not Disturb While Driving (DNDWD)” mode work?
With this new safety feature, when you’re driving you will be able to disable texting and receiving push notifications from news and from apps. The phone will only have a blank screen for the duration of your drive.
When you are in your car and the feature is activated, it will be able to tell when your phone is connected to the car’s USB connection or Bluetooth. It can also use the iPhone’s sensors to tell what speed you are going, even if your phone is not connected to the car.
You can still play your music or get navigation help through GPS software, and you can set the feature and choose which contacts can always get through. Anyone else who texts while you are driving will receive an automated response (which you can customize) that reads, “I’m driving with Do Not Disturb turned on. I’ll see your message when I get where I’m going.” Another message tells them how to break through if there is an emergency by telling the texter, “If this is urgent, reply ‘urgent’ to send a notification through with your original message.”
Notifications such as text messages or news updates will be muted, so your screen remains dark for the ride.
In addition, the iPhone screen will be locked so that drivers are prevented from using other apps while behind the wheel. Meanwhile, passengers will be able to select the “I’m Not Driving” button on the lock screen in order to disable DNDWD.
Great feature for parents of teen drivers
Parents also can choose to enable the new “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature for their teenage drivers by enabling it in the Restrictions (parental controls) menu in iOS’s Settings. You also can turn it off and on for yourself from the newly revamped Control Center, where a widget is available that lets you enable the feature with a push of a button.
Then, when you’re at your destination, you can access what you missed while behind the wheel.
Apple a bit slow on the uptake
Although some say it’s about time Apple came up with this (Android has had a similar protection feature on their devices for three years) it is still better late than never, especially given the amount of people who use iPhones and iPads. As it is, there are some people that are unhappy about having anything that they see interfering with their free will, much like having to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle (you don’t have to in Arkansas). These folks likely won’t be using this feature.
It’s okay that Apple is late to the game, as long as people will use it. It’s been a long uphill battle to get people to believe that texting and driving is hazardous to everyone’s health on the road, and it is still considered epidemic, despite the many laws making such a practice illegal.
According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, texting while driving increases a driver’s chances of being in a serious motor vehicle accident 23-fold.
The University of Utah reported that cell phone use was associated with a four-fold increase in the likelihood of getting into an accident — the same risk as driving with a blood alcohol level at the legal limit.
While Apple’s DNDWD feature won’t fully prevent texting of alerts in a moving vehicle (especially if you don’t turn it on), it’s a great start that will hopefully, cut down on the number of deaths and injuries on our roadways due to distracted driving.
Please, let’s be safe out there!
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