Vehicle Mode Activated

This is a continuation of the future of transportation series, this is part 2. I was going in a different direction until a tragic incident involving distracted driving happened in Texas this past weekend. More on that below.

Anyone who flies commercial airlines knows that when they close the door, all phones and electronics need to put into “Airplane Mode”

We do this to be safe; we don’t want a transmission to interfere with any communications or electronics on the aircraft. Crazy thing is, we are not even sure there is an issue or a potential of interference! The Mythbusters busted it. But, in an over abundance of caution, we continue to put our phones in Airplane Mode.

Ok, so why don’t we have a “Vehicle mode” if you are driving in a car?! We put our phones in Airplane Mode as airline passengers. e.g. It wouldn’t matter if we were distracted by a text or a message since we’re not flying the plane. But as a driver of the car, as the person responsible for the safety of yourself, passengers, and others on the streets, there is no requirement to limit functionality of the phone. To take it even further, why isn’t Vehicle Mode a law? Heck you will get thrown off a plane and fined if you don’t comply with Airplane Mode.

Apple submitted a patent request on Dec 14, 2008 for a “device lock out” technology if the phone was in the drivers compartment and sensed movement through accelerometers and a scenery analyzer.

Imagine the number of lives this could have saved if it was deployed.

Now, many people use their phones for navigation, and there are many other helpful transportation and location apps on your phone, so I’m not in favor of a complete lock out. But a “Vehicle Mode” could allow for navigation and other safe driving apps, and would block any notifications, inbound messages and the things that distract us. It would also prevent the driving from composing and typing messages. In fact, it could push a notification to your contacts to “DND”, do not disturb, while you are driving. There have been campaigns by carriers such as AT&T that promote attentive driving and putting your phone away, but that’s not enough.

As mentioned at the top, I was horrified and disturbed upon reading of this tragic accident in Texas that involved an irresponsible distracted driver who took the lives of 13 innocent people

There is a 14 minute video taken by the passenger of a car following this distracted driver. They even notified police, but it wasn't in time, and it wasn't enough. The video has graphic language, but considering the situation, I think it’s appropriate language. After the crash, one of the first people on the scene checked on the driver who caused the accident, he said: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I was texting on my phone.”

This is not acceptable.

We cannot continue to accept these types of accidents as normal.

The solution is not lawyers and insurance policies.

We have the technology to solve this problem, how much more blood needs to be spilled. Please, if you’re reading this, commit to “Vehicle Mode” even if it’s not a real feature (yet).

Recommended further reading from Roger C Lanctot: