Apple has released its latest iOS 11 operating system, bringing with it a useful tool for drivers: a ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ mode. This blocks phone notifications while you’re at the wheel, with the aim of reducing crashes caused by people using their phone while driving.

If you’ve just installed iOS 11, your phone will detect the first time it thinks you’re driving and, once you’ve arrived at your destination, show a description of the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature.

If you tap a button to enable the feature, it’ll turn on automatically when connected to your car’s Bluetooth, or when it senses driving motion. Alternatively, you can select to turn on the feature manually.

What does Apple’s ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ feature do?

Apple’s ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ mode is an extension to its ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature, which can be enabled for certain times, turning off notifications when, for example, you’re asleep or at work. The driving mode can be turned on manually, or can be triggered by connecting to a car’s Bluetooth.

There’s even an automatic setting, which disables notifications when it detects the movement of a vehicle. You can manually turn this off, though, for those occasions when you’re a passenger in a moving car.

While active, Do Not Disturb While Driving will disable any notifications: such as incoming calls and text messages. Your iPhone screen will stay dark, and there’s an option to turn an automatic response to texts – telling contacts that you’re currently driving. This can be customised for certain contacts.

It can also let through notifications from your favourite contacts, or if a caller dials twice within three minutes.

Driving organisations are campaigning for Android and Microsoft phones to introduce similar features. Statistics from 2015 reveal that 22 people were killed and 99 seriously injured when a driver was using their mobile phone at the wheel.

“Illegal handheld phone use is one of the biggest in-car problems of our time and it will take a concerted effort to get the message across to drivers that it’s simply not okay,” said RAC’s Be Phone Smart spokesman Pete Williams.

“We need organisations to work together and to come up with creative ways of helping drivers realise that no text or tweet while driving is worth the risk.

“Apple’s iOS update is a major step forward and will mean that handsets used by millions of people will, for the first time, include in-built software that can reduce the distraction risk posed by handheld phones. Now we need the other major operating systems – Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile – to follow suit.”

Harsher penalties for mobile phone use at the wheel were introduced earlier this year, with police handing out £200 fines and six penalty points for drivers caught using a handheld phone.


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