Admit it – we all do it. You are driving and your phone dings with a new text message. You think to yourself, “I’m sitting in traffic anyway, so I’ll just take a quick peek.” Next thing you know, the car in front of you has moved, and the person behind you is now honking. Do that a few times without incident, and then it becomes easier for you to justify doing it while you are actually barreling down the highway at 70mph. That is why I am excited about one of the new features in iPhone’s iOS 11.0, which releases September 19th, 2017.
Introducing: Do Not Disturb While Driving
This is an add-on to iPhone’s existing Do Not Disturb mode. It is designed to block the things that cause us to want to reach for our phones while we are driving. Studies have shown that the reaction that makes us want to respond to the buzzes and dings from emails and text messages comes from the same part of our brain that generates the “flight or fight” response. That being the case, it is difficult for us to ignore it.
When the feature is enabled, it will block all incoming notifications until you have reached your destination and exited the car. That includes emails, text messages, and phone calls. You can also set your phone to reply automatically to texts with a message that you are driving and that you will respond when you get to your destination.
Other applications such as GPS (Waze) and music stations (Pandora/Spotify) will still work. The chief purpose of the feature is to block the alerts that tend to distract us. The only inconvenience I can see is that inbound phone calls are silenced along with other types of incoming alerts. It would be nice to be able to answer phone calls when connected to my car’s Bluetooth, as that does not require me to take my eyes off the road.
There are three different modes you can choose for the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature:
- Automatically: Do Not Disturb While Driving will be activated automatically based on detected motion using the phone’s internal sensors.
- When Connected to Car Bluetooth: In most cases, iOS can tell the difference between a regular Bluetooth speaker and in-car Bluetooth. If you have a vehicle with Bluetooth connectivity, Do Not Disturb While Driving will activate when it connects to your car’s Bluetooth-enabled receiver.
- Manually: This gives the user the ability to enable or disable the feature in the Control Center manually. In this mode the feature is off unless you remember to turn it on.
There are a few similar apps that are currently out there and work for both iPhone and Android, including LifeSaver and DriveSafeMode. Android also has a voice-activated app called DriveMode, and for those that use AT&T for cellular service there is a free DriveMode app.
So, while this isn’t the first tool of its kind out there, it’s definitely a move in the right direction for Apple and for driver safety in general.
I am looking forward to checking this out with the new iOS and would be interested to hear your feedback on it too.