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Driver Mode For Phones: U.S. Government Creates Guidelines to Limit Phone Access While Driving

Phone manufacturers are always looking for new features to build into their devices. According to a report from the New York Times, the federal government has a suggestion: a “driver mode” that prevents the phone from being a distraction.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration put forward on Wednesday a set of voluntary guidelines for phone makers that would limit the use of certain apps on the device while behind the wheel. The guidelines would still allow for limited functionality but would place a lock on apps and services that serve primarily as distractions.

The agency’s recommendations would create a variation of “airplane mode,” which was created to adhere with rules placed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Driver mode wouldn’t go as far as airplane mode in its limitations, as communications don’t need to be shut off as a whole. But it would lock the driver out of social media apps like Twitter and Facebook, and would make video and distracting images unavailable to view. Access to the keyboard for texting or email would also be restricted. Drivers would be given a simplified interface with limited actions.

Under the guidelines, drivers would be able to regain some of these features by connecting to the a car’s built-in electronics systems for navigation or entertainment such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. This would permit users to still interact with the device by using buttons on the steering wheel or dashboard display.

NHTSA suggested that phone manufacturers include the driver mode, as well as developing technology that would be able to discern if the person is a driver or passenger.

Companies won’t be required to follow the guidance placed forward by NHTSA, but the agency is hoping they will comply at least in part in order to cut down on traffic accidents and fatalities.

According to data gathered by NHTSA, 2016 has seen a 10.4 percent increase in highway deaths. In 2015, road fatalities increased by 7.1 percent —the largest jump in 50 years.

Earlier this year, Snapchat came under fire for its speed filter, which shows how fast a person is traveling. A user attempting to record their speed caused a major accident. Pokémon Go has also taken heat for leading to distracted driving as players try to catch Pokémon while behind the wheel.

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