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Apple announces new ‘do not disturb while driving’ mode

Our blog has written extensively about distracted driving and the dangers that smartphone usage poses to drivers and passengers on Pennsylvania highways and city streets here in Lancaster. The federal government and smartphone and car manufacturers have all faced criticism for failing to take more concrete action to curb smartphone usage while driving.

That changed earlier this month, when Apple announced that an upcoming version of its operating system for iPhones will feature a new “do not disturb while driving” mode. When engaged, the mode will stop all incoming notifications. For incoming texts, the phone will send an automatic reply to the sender letting them know that the recipient is currently driving.

“It’s all about keeping your eyes on the road,” an Apple senior executive said when unveiling the new feature.

Not a cure-all

The feature will work automatically, utilizing new technology to know when the phone user is in a moving vehicle. The first time the user gets into a car, the phone will prompt them to turn the mode on.

However, this means that the phone owner can still choose to turn off the “do not disturb while driving” mode. Additionally, when text message senders receive an automatic reply letting them know the recipient is driving, they can choose to mark the message as urgent and override the do not disturb mode. Favorite contacts will also be able to have their notifications pushed through.

This information begs the question: Is the new feature enough? We know that so many people out there, especially teens and young adults, have a hard time being disconnected at all. Will they be willing to turn on this new feature if they are going to be driving for a few hours, or even a few minutes?

What you can do to curb distracted driving

If you are a parent with a teen or young adult who spends a lot of time on the phone and behind the wheel, one of the most important things you can do is set a good example. That means not using your phone while you are driving. You can also take the time to explain to your child what can go wrong if they take their eyes off the road for too long. An accident could mean serious injuries with expensive medical bills, skyrocketing insurance rates or even the possibility of a lawsuit if they injure someone else.

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