Combating distracted driving... with your phone?
Cellphone blocking technology removes the temptation of distracted driving altogether by prohibiting calls or texts while a vehicle is in motion.
If you’re a cellphone owner, you know the intense gravitational pull felt in response to a ding or vibration indicating the arrival of a new message. For most people, that magnetism unfortunately doesn’t go away when driving.
Technology got us in this mess, and technology is going to get us out. At least, that’s the sentiment of Deborah Hersman, the president of the NSC.
Cellphone companies and application developers are taking steps to combat the prevalent issue of distracted driving. Cellphone blocking technology removes the temptation of distracted driving altogether by prohibiting calls or texts while a vehicle is in motion. This technology can come in the form of a downloadable app, adding a service to your wireless plan or installing a device into your vehicle to create a “geofence” (a virtual barrier). Devices that connect with onboard diagnostics stop your phone when the car is engaged and can send an auto reply to calls and texts.
Popular tech giant Apple took their first stab at distracted driving with an iOS update in fall of 2017. The optional “Do Not Disturb While Driving” safety feature aims to keep drivers focused on the road by blocking notifications on an iPhone’s lock screen and sending a voluntary, automatic reply to those attempting to text.
This technology hasn’t seemed to catch on just yet. Only 20.5% of survey respondents with do-not-disturb-compatible iPhones had it set to activate automatically when driving or when connected to a vehicle's Bluetooth, according to a 2020 survey by IIHS.
Several third-party apps with varying features are available for download in your phone’s app store. While most of them have call- and text-blocking capabilities, others go a step further by allowing parents to track their teen drivers, blocking email and internet access, and disabling smartphone cameras.
It’s important to note that a major concern among those looking to install this technology is the ability to reach 911. Emergency overrides come standard on all blocking devices and apps.