Is It a Good Idea to Auto-Disable Your Phone While You Drive?

Smartphones, phone service companies, and other businesses are instituting ways to automatically disable phones while a vehicle is in motion. Apple has included the optional “Do Not Disturb” feature in iOS 12, and General Motors has an Android app that reminds drivers to put their phone down. Should all related companies do this? Is it a good idea to auto-disable your phone while you drive?

Miguel says it’s not a bad idea, but as a personal preference, he wouldn’t auto-disable his phone. Much of this is because he has a Bluetooth headset that allows him to do hands-free talking. He notes a decent-quality one can be picked up for around $20 bucks. “Even someone who bought a used car should have no reason not to buy one.”

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Alex explains that while he has his phone set to Do Not Disturb while he’s driving, it doesn’t make him feel safer. He believes if anything, it’s less safe, as he has to “tap additional buttons in order to access navigation if the phone becomes locked.” He sees it as a little buggy, as he discovered it’s impossible to swipe to another app on his phone if Do Not Disturb while driving is on.

Ryan thinks it’s a good idea, though he also admits, “Personally, I don’t ever feel the need to check my phone while I’m driving.” He prefers to listen to music when he’s driving rather than talk on the phone. Yet, he also admits that living in a city, he hasn’t owned a car in almost ten years, but he finds this is the case on the sporadic occasions when he is behind the wheel.

Fabio notes that “it only takes a second for you to have to swerve to try and miss something, and that’s when accidents happen.” Whatever the phone call is about, he stresses it can wait until you arrive at your destination.

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Simon feels it can be effective for people who have the “undying urge to check their phones while they drive.” Yet for people who may want to keep their phones active in case of emergencies, it may be terrifying to think they’ll miss something. He thinks it’s a “case-by-case thing,” as for some people it will be safer, yet others may need to find an alternative if they’re missing important calls.

I agree with much of what has been said here. I have it enabled on my iPhone through the iOS 12 public beta. I have missed texts that were important for me to get. I don’t get a notification once I’m at my destination that I missed a text. And like Alex said, you can’t access the phone for other reasons while it’s locked down. If I’m playing my music through Bluetooth, I can’t open my phone to switch songs if I’m in my driveway. I can’t access Siri to add a reminder to my phone. I also think that the people who really should be using it won’t.

Do you agree with our writers as well? Have you used one of these auto-disable features/apps for your phone while you’re driving? Should this be mandatory or optional? Do you think it helps keep people safe? Is it a good idea to auto-disable your phone while you drive? Add your voice to our conversation in the comments section below.

3 comments

  1. My phone came with a driving mode automatically enabled. I had to disable it so I could use the GPS.

    I’m not in the habit of initiating, receiving, or texting while driving. If it can’t wait until I get to my destination, I pull over. People who talk on their phones are a driving risk; even if they’re using it hands free. It’s still a distraction and some drivers drive poorly even when they’re not distracted.

    Hands free use of phones while driving is still allowed in my state, but I see people violating the law just about every time I’m driving. It’s dumb because the fine is about $500. What can be so important that’s it’s worth risking someone’s life?

  2. Having ANY kind of phone conversation, whether hand-held or hands-free, is a distraction. As Fabio notes, it only takes a split second of inattention to get into an accident. Drivers are distracted too much as it is without having to mind their phones.

  3. I’d like to see everywhere doing what was done in Canada. I can’t remember if it was the Federal government or just the Alberta government, but whichever it was enacted a law making it illegal for the driver of a car to have a phone conversation unless they used a hands-free device…bluetooth headset, speaker phone, whatever; the usual Distracted Driver law. However, they quickly found out what a lot of people already knew…that it wasn’t the holding of the phone to the ear that was causing the distraction, it was, as dragonmouth pointed out, simply *having* a phone conversation that was causing the distraction, regardless of whether a hands-free device was being used. So…they changed the law.

    It’s now illegal for the driver of a car to have a phone conversation, even *with* a hands-free device, or to even *touch* a cell phone, *while the car is moving*. The driver has to pull over to a safe spot on the side of the road (where “safe spot” means “not causing any form of hazard to traffic”) and *then* use the cell phone.

    Haven’t heard anything yet about how well the new version of the Distracted Driver law is working, but it’s got to be working better than the old version…which didn’t make *any* change to the situation.

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