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

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.

distracted-driving
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.

Top Rated Comments

Sigma4Life Avatar
56 months ago
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.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
johnnyjibbs Avatar
56 months ago
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.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Stella Avatar
56 months ago
This wouldn't be needed if motorists engaged brain and not use phone while driving. Distracted driving now injuries / kills more people than impaired driving.

Just sad.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
humblecoder Avatar
56 months ago
Manual transmission. . .problem solved. :rolleyes:
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nepalisherpa Avatar
56 months ago
I'd welcome this feature. Google is already ahead on this.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
0958400 Avatar
56 months ago
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.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple transfer google photos 1

Apple Launches Service for Transferring iCloud Photos and Videos to Google Photos

Wednesday March 3, 2021 12:04 pm PST by
Apple this week introduced a new service that's designed to make it quick and easy for iCloud users to transfer their stored photos and videos to Google Photos. As outlined in an Apple support document, you can go to Apple's privacy website and sign in to see the "Transfer a copy of your data" option. If you select this and go through all the steps, Apple will transfer your iCloud photos and ...
PIA23764 RoverNamePlateonMars web

NASA Mars Perseverance Rover Uses Same PowerPC Chipset Found in 1998 G3 iMac

Tuesday March 2, 2021 3:21 am PST by
NASA's Perseverance rover, which recently made history landing on the surface of Mars, is powered by the same processor used in an iMac more than 23 years old. Image Credit: NASA As reported by NewScientist (via Gizmodo), the rover includes the PowerPC 750 processor, the same chip used in the G3 iMac in 1998. The main chipset is the same; however, there are differences between the...
rosetta 2

Rosetta May Be Removed From M1 Macs in Some Regions on macOS 11.3

Tuesday March 2, 2021 5:20 pm PST by
Installing the upcoming macOS 11.3 software update on an M1 Mac may result in Rosetta 2 being removed in one or more regions around the world. In the third beta of macOS 11.3 seeded to developers for testing today, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser uncovered new strings in the beta's code indicating that "Rosetta will be removed upon installing this update." Another new string reads "Rosetta ...
iphone 6 in hand

Apple Faces Another iPhone Lawsuit Over 'Programmed Obsolescence'

Monday March 1, 2021 6:44 am PST by
Apple faces a new class-action lawsuit that accuses it of deliberately releasing iOS updates that slowly reduce the performance of an iPhone, forcing customers to upgrade their devices. The lawsuit comes from the Portuguese Consumer Protection Agency, Deco Proteste (via Marketeer), which in a statement says that it will proceed with a case against the Cupertino tech giant because it...
magsafe charging brick feature

Prosser: iPhone 12 MagSafe Battery Pack to Feature Reverse Charging

Monday March 1, 2021 1:18 pm PST by
Apple is working on MagSafe-compatible battery packs that will be compatible with the iPhone 12 models, and leaker Jon Prosser today said on the Genius Bar podcast that one version of the battery pack will feature "reverse charging." According to Prosser, Apple is working on two versions of the battery packs, one that's a standard version and one that's a premium version with reverse...
Screen Shot 2021 03 03 at 11

MagSafe Charging Port for iPhone Appears in Apple Patent

Wednesday March 3, 2021 1:30 am PST by
In a newly granted patent, Apple envisions a type of connectivity port using an iteration of its magnetic MagSafe charger to charge an iPhone, potentially paving the way for a future without Lightning. Submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday (via Patently Apple), the patent outlines a three-pinned MagSafe charger, similar to the ones found in older MacBook...
Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature

iPhone Sticking With Lightning Port Over USB-C for 'Foreseeable Future'

Tuesday March 2, 2021 9:32 am PST by
Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," with no intention of switching to USB-C, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In spite of much of the industry moving toward USB-C, Apple will not be using it to replace the Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, or indeed on any iPhone model for the time being. In a note seen by MacRumors yesterday,...
iPad mini pro feature

Sketchy Rumor Claims 'iPad Mini Pro' Launching in Second Half of 2021

Wednesday March 3, 2021 3:04 am PST by
Apple is expected to launch a sixth-generation iPad mini in the first half of 2021, possibly as soon as this March, based on long-standing rumors. However, a new rumor out of Asia that has gained traction in the last 24 hours suggests an "iPad mini Pro" will arrive in the second half of this year. According to a post on Korean blog Naver, whose rumor track record is unknown, the device...
apple pencil 3 leak

New Apple Pencil Allegedly Leaks With Glossy Finish and Redesigned Tip

Wednesday March 3, 2021 6:17 am PST by
Images supposedly depicting a third-generation Apple Pencil have been shared on Twitter by the leaker known as "Mr. White." The purported new Apple Pencil appears to share a very similar design to the current, second-generation Apple Pencil, which is shorter than the previous version and charges inductively on the side of an iPad. The updated Apple Pencil appears to have a glossy...
apple watch ecg wrist

Apple Watch ECG Feature Gets Approved in Australia

Wednesday March 3, 2021 2:07 am PST by
The Australian government has approved ECG functionality on the Apple Watch, giving Apple the all-clear to launch the feature for Apple Watch users in the country, according to a regulatory document first spotted by The 8-Bit. Earlier last month, the Apple Watch's irregular heart rhythm notification received approval in Australia, although ECG did not. Irregular heart rhythm is a feature...