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NHTSA Proposes Driver Mode For Smartphones To Reduce Accidents

NHTSA Proposes Driver Mode For Smartphones To Reduce Accidents

Drivers of today already make use of interfaces such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that allow their smartphones to be paired with the vehicles they are driving. Moreover, these interfaces already do a neat job of shutting off features that might cause distractions for those behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), however, wants to go the extra mile. The government agency has recently proposed voluntary guidelines to not only urge other phone makers to also allow their smartphone products to have pairing capabilities with infotainment systems (which CarPlay and Android Auto already have), but also, to include a driver mode specifically designed to cut down distractions for mobile users driving vehicles. Basically, what this mode does is generate simple user interface that reduces the time the user looks away from the road, and either deactivates or reduces functionalities that, frankly, are not needed by the driver.

The NHTSA’s specific goal is to have the driver mode deactivate manual text entry (typing text messages using one’s hands), photo and video playback, unimportant incoming text messages, social media, and web surfing. The agency wants the driver mode to be enabled automatically, for instance when the vehicle reaches a speed of more than 5 miles per hour. But this is undoubtedly trickier than it sounds. For one, the system has to be able to detect if the person operating the smartphone is the driver or just a mere passenger. Still, there is no reason to think that techs should not be able to figure this out in the near future. For the meantime, the driver mode can be manually enabled by the driver himself. 

To be perfectly clear about it, the guidelines proposed by the NHTSA are not final yet. As a matter of fact, for now they are more like the second phase of an effort by the agency to minimize distractions within the infotainment systems. Still, even at proposal stage, the guidelines could encourage Apple and other mobile giants to start focusing on reducing distractions at their end. After all, they never want to be viewed as manufacturers of products that help cause road accidents. And after what has happened to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, phone makers now are more driver than ever to avoid any controversy that might ruin their reputation.

For those needing more information regarding the NHTSA’s proposed guidelines, you can learn more by visiting this page.