Will a text messaging "driver mode" help prevent crashes?

Amid the outcry about distracted driving, there's one key thing that's not happening. Even with widespread awareness, texting while driving has been increasing. At any moment in the day, the National Occupant Protection Use Survey estimates that 660,000 drivers are using a cell phone or other electronic device from behind the wheel.

As people find it harder to function without their smartphones, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is one of the government agencies working to make the roads safer. In addition to awareness campaigns, they recently suggested that device manufacturers include a "driver mode" that limits functionality while a car is in motion.

How would it work?

The organization's suggestion is that phone manufacturers install technology to limit a phone's use for anyone in the driver's seat. This would disable manual entry information, videos and other visuals, leaving only specified driving-related apps available, such as mapping or navigational systems. Anything using text, social media or video, for example, would be locked. The block would not affect emergency services.

There are existing apps that attempt to meet these criteria already, many of which block a phone located in the driver's seat specifically. Reviews are mixed on their success, with critics noting that passengers are also limited or that drivers can find work-arounds.

Voluntary, for now

The NHTSA suggestion is for voluntary cooperation in the program, ultimately uniting phone companies and auto manufacturers to partner on applications that emphasize safer driving and limit internet-based interactive activities. For older cars, phone companies would create apps that block driver access.

Acknowledging that a device can't always tell who is driving and who is a passenger, there would be a manual activation for the apps.

Distracted driving

While phone use causes many accidents every year, driver distraction comes from other sources too. Drivers eating, adjusting the radio or observing nature are in many preventable accidents on a daily basis. Texting while driving is a serious problem right now, but any distracted driver is a danger on the road.

If you've been in a collision with a distracted driver, a personal injury attorney can help to argue your case and to cover your losses and expenses from the accident. A driver who is not looking at the road is an at-fault driver. Texting while driving is a traffic offense in Louisiana, but unfortunately that doesn't stop everybody from sending "just a quick reply." A reply that can have serious, lasting and expensive consequences.

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