In a move welcomed by motoring groups, Apple has announced a new feature to tackle the persistent problem of drivers using mobile phones at the wheel.
The latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 11, will include a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” function to automatically silence notifications if an iPhone is connected to a car.
The issue is serious, with the Department for Transport (DFT) saying that mobile phone use can have “a worse impact on driving ability than being above the drink driving limit”.
Fines for using a hand-held phone or similar device while driving were first introduced in 2003, doubled in 2007, and increased to £200 and six points on your license from March 2017.
However, in a recent RAC Business Survey of 1,000 firms, one in five admitted that their drivers had been involved in crashes while using a hand-held phone.
Despite the mounting road safety evidence, a quarter of businesses still expect their commercial drivers to take calls while driving.
Pete Williams, spokesman for the RAC’s BePhoneSmart campaign, said: “These days it is less phone calls and more the pings and buzzes of texts and social media apps that have the potential to distract a driver from the task at hand.
“We’re pleased that millions of drivers that use an Apple iPhone are about to be able to put an end to intrusive notifications while they’re behind the wheel.”
AA president, Edmund King, added: “Our research shows that we need to do more to stop drivers using their phones at the wheel, and technology can help.
“More than half of young drivers can’t bring themselves to turn off their mobile phones before driving.”
While responsibility lies firmly with the driver, callers can help. If you ring someone who turns out to be driving, even if they’re queuing in traffic, just say you’ll call them back.
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