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Will drivers soon be forced to put their phones down?

Distracted driving has caught the attention of safety officials around the nation. The issue has been on the rise in the past few years, resulting in climbing traffic fatalities. Eight people die and 1,161 people are injured every day due to distracted drivers in this country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reacted to these sobering numbers with a new suggestion.

Blocking drivers' phones could prevent traffic accidents

The NHTSA has proposed guidelines to block drivers' phones with a "driver mode." They are asking smart phone manufacturers to create a mode that would block distracting phone functions while a vehicle is on the move. They suggest locking the following functions for drivers:

  • Manual texting
  • Videos
  • Photos
  • Most apps that use social media and the internet

Right now these are only requests. The NHTSA cannot force phone manufacturers to create a "driver mode" in phones, but they hope that people will start to listen to their recommendations. A major barrier is that passenger phones could also be blocked as a side effect. Teens in cars, kids on road trips, and anyone not sitting in the driver's seat would be frustrated.

Anti-distraction phone technology is on the move

Currently a few companies are trying to develop technology which could detect the difference between drivers and passengers. One promising product is currently being tested by cell phone service providers Sprint and T-Mobile. The not-so-new product is called Grove, which can be plugged right into a vehicle's steering wheel. Groove can block wireless phone distractions while a vehicle is moving. Technology developers say that it can tell the difference between drivers and passengers. The creators have been pushing for this product to go to market for years, but service providers are hesitant. Most companies fear the public's reaction.

That is why the NHTSA is calling for the public's opinion on this issue. You can comment directly to the NHTSA on their website about their proposed regulations through February 3rd, 2017. While phone companies hesitate to follow suit, some believe that small inconveniences would be worth saving lives.

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