U.S. Transportation Department Proposes Simplified 'Driver Mode' to Help Curb Distracted Driving

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The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed new federal guidelines [PDF] intended to reduce distracted driving caused by smartphone use behind the wheel.


The voluntary guidelines recommend smartphone makers like Apple develop a Driver Mode, a simplified interface that would prevent access to non-driving-related tasks such as manual text messaging, social media content, automatically scrolling text, and viewing images and video not related to driving.

Driver Mode would not be initiated if the smartphone is already paired to a vehicle's infotainment system, while certain features such as maps and access to emergency services and alerts would not be locked out.

The NHTSA said technologies exist that could detect whether a driver is using a smartphone behind the wheel, and presumably enable Driver Mode, but refinements are still being made to ensure reliability. In the meantime, Driver Mode would have to be manually enabled by drivers who choose to use it.

Smartphone use while driving continues to be a major problem, despite the safety risks to drivers, passengers, and other drivers sharing the road.

The NHTSA said driver distraction was responsible for 10% of fatal crashes, 18% of crashes causing injuries, and 16% of all traffic crashes in the United States in 2014, the most recent year in which detailed distracted driving crash data is available. In total, the year had 385 fatal crashes that involved the use of a cell phone.
"Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic that has devastating consequences on our nation's roadways," said Secretary LaHood. "These guidelines recognize that today's drivers appreciate technology, while providing automakers with a way to balance the innovation consumers want with the safety we all need. Combined with good laws, good enforcement and good education, these guidelines can save lives."
Given the guidelines are voluntary, Apple and other smartphone makers are under no obligation to adhere to them.

The NHTSA is accepting public feedback about the distracted driving guidelines on the Regulations.gov website.

Article Link: U.S. Transportation Department Proposes Simplified 'Driver Mode' to Help Curb Distracted Driving
 
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Zoboomafoo

macrumors 6502
May 22, 2002
397
625
How would you automatically differentiate between a driver and a passenger device? Ultimately the only real solution is to get rid of human drivers all together.
There might be some ways. Technically when you make a turn, the driver and passenger in front seat are going different distances. Of course that creates a problem with people in the back seats I think. Maybe you could communicate with other things in the car? or you could just have them opt in.
 

KanosWRX

macrumors 6502
Jul 14, 2008
340
178
Here is an idea, just make an app that enables CarPlay right on your phone. Basically turns the phone into the interface everyone else sees when using CarPlay, its designed for use in a car so hopefully it cuts down on distraction. Seems like a simple yet very effective option. Everyone mounts their phone to their car dash some how now anyways, seems like the perfect logical choice.
 
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zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
6,188
9,349
Florida, USA
I use a phone mount that holds my phone in a convenient easy to access location when driving.

I'd love for Apple to simply let me use Carplay on the phone's screen. I don't know why they haven't yet; it's not like Apple sells head units for cars, so they have nothing to lose monetarily.
 
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0958400

Suspended
Jul 20, 2011
401
716
Oh h*** yes. And the first step would be: SIRI UNDERSTAND WHAT I'M SAYING! (sigh)

No, not mumbling, not a thick accent either. Just a car that normal people drive which is not as soundproof as Apple's luxury cars where they seem to test Siri's abilities.

Oh and btw, I don't want sassy comments while I'm driving, thank you very much.
 

frifra

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2008
782
469
Please dont dissable those options for passengers though.

They and carmakers should check out the cars from SAAB (not in business anymore). They have a highway mode automatically which reduces certain things being shown / illuminated above a certain speed for better focus. Saab came from the airplane industry and that is where the feature derived from.
 
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Return Zero

macrumors 6502a
Oct 2, 2013
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Good idea, but it's just a band-aid on a much bigger problem. If it saves even one life, though, it very well could be worth it.
 

oneMadRssn

macrumors 603
Sep 8, 2011
5,253
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Europe
It is illegal in the UK to use a phone whilst driving. The US should make this law as well.

Adding a "driver mode" will simply encourage phone use whilst driving.
We already have laws against reckless driving. I would rather see the definition of reckless driving amended to include use of a cell phone while driving, and give the police officer discretion to judge what is reckless and what isn't.
 

jadot

macrumors 6502
Apr 6, 2010
482
446
UK
Nobody needs to answer a call while driving. Nobody needs to answer a text/write a text while driving. Nobody should be flipping through their music library for the next song.

Unfortunately, it probably will have to be done in software, because the public at large don't seem to be able to understand where they fit in to "Nobody".

At the very least, put the phone on silent and leave it in a bag until you get there. Ideally, shut it down until you've turned off the engine. No excuses.

Think that's harsh? Think again : http://bit.ly/2eqYYJi
 

840quadra

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 1, 2005
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Twin Cities Minnesota
This all-or-nothing zero-tolerance approach is moronic. There is a world of difference between changing songs while driving and texting/facbooking while driving.
Neither of which is focusing on driving, which is the exact definition of distracted driving in many states.

That said, the article states government would like limit some functions, not brick the phone. Additionally, if it is activated by being tied to the in car entertainment system, it is likely that drivers could change songs via steering wheel controls, or other tactile buttons without looking away.
 

nt5672

macrumors 68020
Jun 30, 2007
2,075
4,474
This would suck. We already have a car where I, as the passenger, cannot use the navigation system because the car is moving. There is no way the government is going to get this right. But this is really easy to fix this. Make the law 2 months mandatory jail time for anyone using a phone while driving. 90 % of the offenders would stop day 2.

Why should I, as a passenger, be punished for other people's stupidity? How would this work on trains, busses, or the back seat? I would only accept limitations in this area if they absolutely only applied to the driver and not any passengers. But I don't see how that can happen. And once we start telling people where they can use their phones, what is next? Can't use them at the theater, not at political rallies (at least not Trump rallies), not in the presence of the police, not unless you are a certain age. Where does it stop?
 
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