Driver mode: Could blocking apps combat traffic fatalities?

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Laws are one way to change behaviors. Along this line, New York has been proactive and banned all handheld phone use while behind the wheel. “Texting zones” have been designated along the New York State Thruways and state Highways. Improper cell use or texting is treated strictly and a ticket can add 5 points to your driving record.

In addition to pushing for strict laws, the National Highway Safety Administration is now taking a new tact to keep driver’s attention focused on the road. The agency has requested that phone makers install software that blocks apps and content that could pose a distraction. In this post, we will discuss how a driver mode would work. We’ll also explain the progressive action of one app developer to limit access in vehicles.

GPS and accelerometers

If you look around while driving, you’ll be shocked by the number of people still on their phones even though it is illegal in New York. Most phones come with gps, so by piggybacking off this technology, new driver mode software would only display a simplified user interface while a vehicle was in motion. Certain apps would also be blocked.

When notified that Pokemon Go was behind several auto accidents, the app maker made a change that stops a user from accessing the app in a vehicle going more than 10 miles per hour. Other developers of apps may face new pressure to take similar steps.

Device makers have had ways to limit usage for some time and this has become an issue in a number of lawsuits. In one wrongful death case, a family is seeking to hold Apple accountable when a driver using a ‘less safe’ Facetime app killed their daughter in a car crash.

Coordinating device makers, after-market infotainment and vehicle manufacturers will be difficult. It may mean that the voluntary guidelines remain an aspiration. New laws do not always chang behavior, so other avenues must be explored.

When another driver makes a poor decision and causes an accident while texting or looking up directions on a phone, civil law offers remedies. Speak with one of the personal injury attorneys at Weisfuse & Weisfuse to learn more.

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