Pretty much all phones have an “airplane mode,” but only fewer than 3% have a “driving mode.” Windows 8 phones have this feature, but Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android software do not. According to Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris, psychologists and authors of “The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us,” an effective driving mode should be very easy to access and turn on and decrease the pressure to respond to a notification right away. It should send an “I’m driving now” text to any messengers until the driver has reached their destination. The mode should also prevent phone calls, texts, games, and social media notifications and only allow GPS/navigation apps and emergency communications.
In 2013, The National Safety Council estimated 1.1 million crashes involved cell phone use, and the U.S. Department of Transportation estimated 3,000 deaths and 4,000 injuries due to distracted driving. Many other features that attempt to decrease these numbers such as “head-up displays” and hands-free phones still pose risks. A recent AAA report shows that voice-controlled information systems in cars use up mental resources and continue to distract drivers even after they have been used. Another study by psychologist Cary Stothart showed that just receiving a notification can distract someone from an attention-demanding task. A driving mode would certainly reduce the risks of this, but the real challenge would be to get people to actually use it.