When we get on an airplane, we hear the announcement to switch our phones to airplane mode. We do it, right?
So what if when we started our vehicles, we heard the same announcement?
We’d presumably turn the phone off.
A new software program called “Driver mode” will do that for us.
It’s about time that cell phones make us drive more safely and reduce our shocking number of crashes.
What is the Driver Mode Function?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just announced guidelines to develop driver mode in new and aftermarket devices. The proposed driver mode function would create a simplified user interface that disabled data transfer and blocks disruptive applications.
Note that making and taking phone calls and using GPS would still be permitted.
The new software would only apply to the driver’s phone and set the driver mode.
Can’t the driver just set his or her phone like this now? Sure, but I’m guessing that no one does. I don’t (but use Bluetooth).
The new driver mode function would make all drivers follow what should already be the rule.
OK, most people won’t like it. But for most people who fly, there are no no text messages, email, or Google searches but somehow we survive.
It’s a small price to pay to make sure we’re not crashed into by a teenager next to us watching a music video.
Texting While Driving is Not a Right
FAA rules regarding phone use were implemented for passenger safety, not to limit personal freedom.
It is no more a right to use a phone while driving than to use it while in the air because doing so puts others at risk.
When devising the airplane mode rules, the FAA considered evidence that the transmissions interfere with flight operations. Strong evidence also supports the NHTSA’s assertions that texting interferes with driving.
And it’s not even clear that cell phone use interferes with a plane’s safety.
Our highway safety regulators were shocked when traffic deaths increased by 7.1 percent in 2015, the largest increase in 50 years. We are now on pace to far out do that appalling record.
Traffic fatalities increased by an alarming 10.4 percent in the first half of 2016.
17,775 deaths during the first six months means that 100 people died every day in car crashes. Incredible, right?
In Texas, more people often die just in one month on our highways that in airplanes in the entire year — in all 50 states. Plane crashes are rare.
But what gets the headlines — and scares us more — like yesterday’s horrible crash in Columbia?
Drivers — and our Texas lawmakers — need to stop considering texting while driving a right. Texas is one of only four states in the U.S. that still allows almost unrestricted texting while driving.
Car makers are starting to implement safety features like this one. General Motors, for one, has limited texting while driving in new models.
Let’s hope this new software is implemented — and that it works.