RAC urges across-the-board ‘drive safe’ modes for smartphones

RAC urges across-the-board ‘drive safe’ modes for smartphones
The RAC is part of a group demanding major smartphone software providers to catch up with Apple and provide a safe driving mode on their handsets.

Google-owned Android, Microsoft and Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association (GSMA), have received a letter from the collective, fronted by Brake and the RAC – creators of the Be Phone Smart campaign – asking them to commit to an ‘opt out’ mode as standard.

It is hoped they will follow in the footsteps of Apple, which this week unveils its latest iOS11 system update complete with Do Not Disturb While Driving’ mode – that detects when someone is driving and turns off calls, text messages and notifications.

READ MORE: Apple to launch safe driving mode for iPhones

Illegal handheld phone use is one of the “biggest in-car problems of our time” according to RAC Be Phone Smart spokesman Pete Williams. A concerted effort is needed on all fronts to get the message across that “it’s simply not okay.”

Technology which is able to remove distracting alerts while driving is now an absolute priority in tackling “the needless deaths and serious injuries caused by drivers using handheld mobile phones behind the wheel”.

Department for Transport statistics show that in 2015, 22 people were killed and 99 were seriously injured in incidents where a driver was using their handheld phone behind the wheel.

“We need organisations to work together and to come up with creative ways of helping drivers realise that no text or tweet while driving is worth the risk,” Mr Williams said.

“Apple’s imminent iOS update is a major step forward and will mean that handsets used by millions of people will, for the first time, include in-built software that can reduce the distraction risk posed by handheld phones. Now we need the other major operating systems – Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile – to follow suit.”

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Together with Brake, the RAC has joined forces with Road Safety GB, RED Driving School, Brighton and Hove City Council, the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety and RoadPeace in delivering its shared message.

The group wants all updates to Microsoft and Android technology to include amongst other things, sensors which switch on when the phone owner is driving, turning the screen black and suspending any push notifications.

Other driving mode capabilities should include being able to send automatic text replies to anyone who gets in touch while the user is driving.

The updates should also be able to provide evidence that the phone was in ‘drive safe’ mode – potentially leading to reduced insurance premiums.

Copyright Press Association 2017. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.