We’ve all been there: driving down the street when you get a notification of a text message that you want to read right away.
Do you ignore the message and keep your eyes on the road or try to glance down at the notification while the car is still moving?
The Dangers of Driving and Texting
Even though most people are aware of the great danger of distracted driving and texting while driving, many people do it anyway. But a new feature from Apple is simply taking the temptation away.
The new feature “Do Not Disturb While Driving,” recently announced and available on the new iOS 11, will automatically block text messages whenever the phone is connected to a car via Bluetooth or cable or if the car is moving. That means users won’t get notifications of new messages, news updates, or anything else that could distract them from safe driving.
Users can create a setting so that any texts that are received while the feature is activated will be responded to with an automatic message saying that the user is driving and can’t respond at the moment. Drivers will also be able to set up customized messages for their favorite contacts to let them know their message went through and will be read when it is safe to give people sending urgent messages some piece of mind.
“It’s all about keeping your eyes on the road,” said Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi. “When you are driving you don’t need to be responding to these kind of messages. We think this is going to be a real important step in safety in the car.”
The setting will also lock the phone’s screen so that users can’t access their apps while driving and can only look at a dark screen. The only app users will be able to see is Apple Maps, but they won’t be able to input destinations. Apple CarPlay will still work while using the Do Not Disturb setting, which will allow drivers to hear and respond to text messages using voice commands and to safely use other iPhone features while driving.
Apple CarPlay is integrated into cars and is available on many newer models through a touchscreen on the dashboard. Navigation apps from other sources, including Google Maps, will also be accessible, though they might not work as well as they would outside the car.
Passengers who are just driving in the car will be able to disable the setting by saying that they are simply riding in the car and not driving. Beta testing on the new feature will begin later this month, and iOS 11 and the new feature will be available to everyone in the fall.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that eight people are killed every day in crashes involving distracted driving, and 46 states have banned texting while driving, so Apple is doing its part to help drivers keep their attention on the road. The company was sued six months ago for not having a feature like the new Do Not Disturb setting.
Apple’s new feature will definitely take some getting used to for drivers and passengers, but it could be a great step forward in eliminating distracted driving and creating safer roads.