Car News

US safety agency calls for ‘Driver Mode’ on smartphones

The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants a ‘Driver Mode’ on smartphones to reduce driver distraction behind the wheel.

THE US NHTSA has issued voluntary guidelines calling for smartphone makers, like Apple, Google and Samsung (is it still in business?) to install a ‘Driver Mode’ function on smartphones. This Driver Mode, it’s proposed, would see a smartphone automatically lock out access to social media, email and more but leave music and sat-nav available for use.

The guidelines can’t be enforced by the NHTSA but any right-thinking person would have to accept that they make sense. Think of it like Flight Mode.

“Far too many [people] are put at risk by drivers who are distracted by their cellphones,” said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These commonsense guidelines, grounded in the best research available, will help designers of mobile devices build products that cut down on distraction on the road.”

The thinking is that when your smartphone is paired with a vehicle via Bluetooth, or either Apple Car Play or Android Auto then it would automatically go into a reduced functionality mode.

“NHTSA has long encouraged drivers to put down their phones and other devices, and just drive,” said NHTSA Administrator Dr Mark Rosekind. “With driver distraction one of the factors behind the rise of traffic fatalities, we are committed to working with the industry to ensure that mobile devices are designed to keep drivers’ eyes where they belong — on the road.”

While implementing a Driver Mode would be easy enough via a system like Apple Car Play or Android Auto, plenty of tech companies are lending their voice the call for phone control in cars. US tech company, Cellcontrol claims it is the only company that can disable a phone’s functionality when a vehicle is in motion, and that it’s clever enough to determine where the phone is in the car and disable it when it’s in the hands of the driver.

In a statement, Cellcontrol said “Unlike all other competing technologies, Cellcontrol still remains the only vendor able to block and audit on both iOS and Android-based mobile devices. It also has a unique proximity-location feature that can determine where the mobile device is in the vehicle’s cabin, and block accordingly once the mobile device is back in the hands of the driver.

“We’re encouraged by NHTSA’s continued focus on stopping the ever-growing problem of distracted driving, and the thousands of crashes and fatalities it causes each year in the US,” said Cellcontrol Vice President of Marketing Jesse Hoggard.

Social Media has exploded with talk of a Driver Mode for smartphones with plenty of people arguing that it’s an invasion and an unnecessary control.

Question: Would you accept a Driver Mode on your phone to lock you out of social media, email and games… do you think it would help reduce mobile phone related distractions behind the wheel?


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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober