Around the world, nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year – a shocking average of 3287 deaths a day. Roughly 40 per cent of all road accidents are caused by ‘distracted driving’ – with texting while driving making up a significant portion of that total.
Now, Apple is taking a stand. While debuting the new iOS 11 earlier this month, the company’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi announced a groundbreaking feature: the “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode, available for all iOS 11 users.
Here’s how it will work: When DNDWD is turned on, your iPhone mutes all notifications and turns the lock screen completely black. (The phone can detect when you’re in a moving car through built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings.) If someone texts you, he or she will get two automatic texts back. The first says, “I’m driving with Do Not Disturb turned on. I’ll see your message when I get where I’m going.” The second is “If this is urgent, reply ‘urgent’ to send a notification through with your original message.”
For drivers who take their eyes off the road just to check for messages, the feature could have a serious effect on how they drive. However, there are loopholes that could still pose potential issues. The DNDWD mode can be manually turned off by selecting the “I’m Not Driving” option. Apple considers this feature a way for people who are in cars but not driving to continue using their phones. Perpetual texters will likely see it as a way to keep up their dangerous habit, though it may slow them down or possibly keep their eyes off the road even longer than normal.
But if this feature proves effective just for the eye-wanderers and can keep a small fraction of people alive who otherwise wouldn’t be, we’d call that a success.