Is a driver mode for your smartphone the solution?

We all know we shouldn’t, but it’s different for us. We don’t read our WhatsApp and Facebook messages all the time… Or do we? Drivers that are using their smartphones are a growing problem.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) want makers of mobile devices to implement a driver mode that will block various functionalities of your phone, so you can keep focussing on the road. Currently, our phones give us too much distraction as it’s so much more than just a phone. A few years ago it was texting and making a call. Today we use all kinds of apps and it’s too easy to quickly check your Facebook messages during driving. Implementing a drive mode should make the phone less distracting.

The NHTSA can’t enforce regulations on the large tech companies like Apple, Samsung and Google, but they can show them a set of guidelines that they can stick to while developing their mobile devices. The NHTSA did this before with phase 1 of voluntary guidelines to address driver distraction on U.S. roads when infotainment systems and navigation devices in cars became the standard. Various manufacturers complied to these guidelines and maybe the tech companies will try to implement the guidelines of this phase 2 document that can be found here.

We have yet to see the first practical implementations for the phones itself, but Apple Carplay (and others) for example already follows some of the guidelines as they will port just some of your phone’s apps to the infotainment system of your car.

Making sure that the occupants won’t be affected by the driver mode is a technical challenge and we think that the best solution will be to optimize the overall in-car user experiences, so we don’t feel much need any more to look at our smartphones continuously.

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