A new way of keeping drivers off the phone has been welcomed amid calls for a tighter crackdown on “distracted driving”.
Apple’s new “do not disturb while driving” feature, which detects if someone’s moving in a car, will be rolled out in its next update for iPhones.
Drivers will have to opt-in to the feature, which won’t automatically lock people out of their phone.
People who were tempted to unlock their phone in a moving car would see a message saying “you will not receive notifications while driving” and those who sent a text to a driver would get an automatic reply saying “I’m driving with Do Not Disturb turned on, I’ll see your message when I get where I’m going”.
Driving instructor Rob Buckley said Apple deserved a “pat on the back” for trying to solve the problem of distracted driving, but he believed people would work around it.
“It’s a big problem, people are chained to their technology and as soon as the phone goes off they want to answer it,” Mr Buckley said.
“You see so many on the phone as you drive around, they’re plugged in and addicted to their phones.
“I see it with my students, as soon as they get out of the car they turn their phone on to see who’s texted them – they rely on text because it’s cheaper – but I think they’ll find a way around (the new feature).”
NRMA road safety expert Dimitra Vlahomitros said being distracted from driving for two seconds or more doubled the risk of crashing.
“Last year, more than 38,400 people were fined for using mobile phones while driving,” Ms Vlahomitros said.
“As more and more people depend on their mobile phones every day, driver distraction will continue to grow.
“We welcomes all technology that tackles distractions inside the car – this will go a long way to ensuring that unsafe driver behaviour is stopped.”
Another driving instructor, Glen Gaudron, said the new feature was a step in the right direction, but he wanted to see the state government toughen it’s stance on mobile phone use.
“You see it every day, they get caught and pay the fine,” Mr Gaudron said.
“If it’s as dangerous as drink driving, why not give it the same penalty and take their license away? Make it a decent penalty and they’ll pull over or call back later.”
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