As distracted driving continues to cause thousands of accidents a year, technology companies are looking to curb a dangerous behavior they helped to create. Where twenty years ago distracted driving was a rarity, as cellphones and other devices have become ubiquitous, so too have the accidents caused by them. Now, cellphone manufacturers and other technology providers are starting to recognize their responsibility to society.
Apple rolled out a new feature with iOS 11, where the phone would automatically trigger “Do Not Disturb” mode and disable notifications when the phone sensed a speed greater than five miles per hour. Though the feature is relatively simple to disable, and also allows drivers to simply claim not to be driving, it is still a massive step forward that the phone itself clearly reminds distracted drivers of the danger of what they are doing. Chevrolet is piloting a different program, which uses peer pressure to discourage this dangerous behavior. An app in the car plays prerecorded messages from friends and family discouraging picking up phones or other devices while the car is in motion. Users of the app score points based upon not picking up their devices, and can compete on leaderboards with friends.
These technologies are too new for researchers to determine if they are making a difference, but even if Apple or Chevy only prevent a few accidents, the cost of development is worth it. And as the technologies become more familiar and more and more people adopt them, positive peer pressure could go a long way in preventing distracted driving.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, and you suspect distracted driving played a role in the incident, please consult with an experienced attorney. A qualified lawyer can lead you through the necessary steps to determine whether or not the other driver was more interesting in their phone than in the safety of others.