Will driver mode reduce cellphone use behind the wheel?

Distracted driving accidents continue to be a problem despite the safety warnings and laws that prohibit certain cellphone uses while driving. To combat this issue, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposes that cellphones come with a driver mode.

The idea behind driver mode is that many of a phone's functions would be locked while a person is driving. Most visual functions would be unavailable so drivers wouldn't be tempted to look at the screen. In addition, NHTSA recommends that driver mode blocks:

  • Texting
  • Social media
  • Photos and videos
  • Websites

Drivers would still be able to access emergency services and maps, however.

The problems with this proposal

While it may reduce certain types of distracted driving, the reality of driver mode is a long way off. It is only a proposal at this point. NHTSA recommends that cellphone manufacturers create a driver mode setting, but they are currently not obligated to do so.

Additionally, only vehicles that can pair with a cellphone would work with automatic driver mode. For other drivers, enabling a similar program on their phones would be something they would have to do every time they got in the car.

There are also questions about how an automatic driver mode program will distinguish between a driver's phone and passengers' phones.

What are your thoughts?

Have a comment, question or idea? You can comment on NHTSA's driver mode proposal here until February 3rd.

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