By now you've probably already heard about one of the features in Apple's new release of iOS 11. You may have even seen the notification on your phone for DNDWD. Some pundits have surmised that the feature is Apple's response to the growing number of global traffic injuries and distracted driving deaths, as well as scrutiny from court cases surrounding crashes caused by apps on their smartphones. Others have suggested that it misses the mark in terms of preventing access to distracting applications. And while it is a step in the right direction, here are three reasons why we believe there is still a need for an enforceable solution that actively prevents app and phone usage behind the wheel.
1. DNDWD requires driver to activate the feature and 'opt-in'
Allowing users to decide whether to engage a safety system nearly always results in sidestepping the system. Not only does DNDWD have to be activated, but the user also has the option to say that they are a passenger. Once the phone detects that you are moving, it will prompt the driver to engage the DNDWD feature. This is a similar setup to apps like Waze that detect motion and require you to hit a button to confirm you are not the driver. If you or your employees are like many people, they automatically hit "I'm a passenger" without any fear of recourse, and continue to use the app behind the wheel. One could even argue that if an opt-in system worked, drivers would just opt to put their phone in the back seat or the glove compartment. Meanwhile a similar opt-in apps have been available for Android phones for years, with no meaningful impact on reducing distractions or crashes.
2. DNDWD is NOT enforceable.
First, a user can simply turn the feature off, as there's no reporting or enforceability to ensure the feature is on. Moreover, at anytime the user can press the "I'm Not Driving" button while driving, and be given full access to the phone, with no reporting or mechanism to prevent. Apps like Waze have had this feature for years--how many times have you hit the "I'm a Passenger" button while driving? In short, DNDWD is great for users with a modicum of self control who want to reduce their "incoming" distractions voluntarily. However, it's useless for families or fleets who want to ensure their drivers are initiating conversations with their phone.
3. DNDWD allows callers to bypass the system.
One feature of DNDWD is that it allows users to create lists of family and friends who can be allowed through the system. Isn't it likely that users will just load this white-list with all their most-called numbers, negating the reason for using the app in the first place? With texts, it gets even worse. While DNDWD will auto-reply to someone sending a text that you are driving, that person can reply 'urgent' and it be allowed through the system, distracting the driver. Isn't it likely that problem employees could use this safeguard to their advantage?
4. DNDWD can create a false sense of security
Perhaps an unlisted and intangible feature of the new system is that it will make people feel that they're doing something to solve the issue. However, really all their doing is putting a band-aid on a huge problem. It will leave them feeling that their employee drivers are protected from distractions or unsafe phone usage behind the wheel, but without enforceablity and accountability, the problem of distracted driving will continue to proliferate.
Again, DNDWD should be viewed as a step in the right direction and it may help those who already have the self-control to not use their phone while driving. However, it leaves a large exposure gap with regard to compliance and enforceability. Safety-minded companies will want the assurance that their drivers are truly safe from mobile distractions behind the wheel. Are you ready to learn why fleets and insurance companies alike are turning to Cellcontrol? Click here to learn more.