A coalition of road safety charities and other organisations has written to the major players in mobile phone industry urging them to include an ‘opt out’ driving mode as standard on all mobile handsets.
The initiative – spearheaded by Brake and the RAC’s Be Phone Smart campaign and backed by Road Safety GB, PACTS, RED Driving School and RoadPeace – urges Android, Microsoft and others to commit to rolling out an opt out mode in their next updates.
The coalition says technology to automatically prevent alerts while driving is ‘urgently’ needed to tackle ‘the needless deaths and serious injuries’ caused by drivers using handheld mobile phones.
The letter has been written ahead of the release this week of Apple’s iOS 11 system update, which will include a ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ mode (pictured) that detects when someone is driving and turns off calls, text messages and notifications.
The coalition says the driving mode should:
- Automatically, as a default setting, switch on when sensors in the handset detect the user is driving;
- Turn the screen blank and suspend any push notifications;
- Be able to send automatic replies via SMS to anyone contacting the user to inform them that they are driving;
- Only permit the handset to be used in conjunction with a hands-free device when enabled; and
- Provide evidence that the phone was in ‘drive safe’ mode – potentially leading to reduced insurance premiums.
The stakeholders say the mobile phone industry has ‘a major part to play in reducing the distraction caused by phones in the car’.
Jason Wakeford, Brake director of campaigns, said: “The illegal use of handheld mobile phones when driving is a growing menace and a major threat to road safety.
“Research shows that using a phone at the wheel affects reaction times as much as drink driving, increasing the chances of a crash.
“As a society, we have become addicted to our mobile phones, but a split second distraction caused by a call, text or notification behind the wheel can be deadly.
“The industry must play its part and include technology as standard which helps keep drivers’ attention on the road, saving lives and preventing serious injuries.”
Pete Williams, RAC spokesman, said: “Illegal handheld phone use is one of the biggest in-car problems of our time and it will take a concerted effort to get the message across to drivers that it’s simply not okay.
“We need organisations to work together and to come up with creative ways of helping drivers realise that no text or tweet while driving is worth the risk.
“Apple’s imminent iOS update is a major step forward and will mean that handsets used by millions of people will, for the first time, include in-built software that can reduce the distraction risk posed by handheld phones.
“Now we need the other major operating systems – Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile – to follow suit.”
Category: Mobile phones.