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A Driver Mode for smartphones.

Let’s use technology to limit -or even eliminate- distracted driving.

I was listening to the latest Note to Self podcast, where they discussed how distracted driving (a.k.a “texting and driving”) is causing a significant number of accidents and they compared it (quite reasonably) to drunk driving.

This is a real problem, one that is causing many lives to be lost each year. What is the best way to deal with it? Note To Self mentioned Ben Lieberman’s efforts to create something called the Textalyzer: Like the Breathalyzer, but for your phone.

But I think there is a better and much simpler way: a driver mode for your phone.

The Driver Mode will be something like the airplane mode your phone already has. But it will not block signal reception: Driver mode will be designed to disable (in a reasonable way) every function of your phone that may distract you while you drive.

Of course, there’s plenty of room for mobile operating systems to add features like:

I mentioned before that it will be easy for anyone to check the Driver Mode recent log on your phone. Here is why:

So, Driver Mode will:

  1. Help drivers refrain from being distracted by their smartphones while driving.
  2. Make it a personal responsibility for someone to disable it (i.e. put lives in danger). I expect this choice to also carry a moral weight, in the same way drinking alcohol before driving does.
  3. Make it easy for officers to check if a driver has Driver Mode enabled or disabled.
  4. Make drivers who explicitly disabled Driver Mode liable in case of a car accident.

If Android and iOS implemented Driver Mode, almost every phone on the market will have it, in just a couple of years. Then, it would even make sense to pass legislation that any phone sold must have a Driver Mode implementing a specific list of features.

I really don’t see why this can’t be on every new smartphone by 2018.