The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is set to issue a set of voluntary guidelines for smartphone makers like Apple, that will ask for an airplane mode-like “driver mode” for mobile devices. The mode would restrict drivers from using certain apps and other features while driving.
The initiative comes in the form of voluntary guidelines that will be issued Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They arrive amid a spike in traffic fatalities in the last two years and increasing concerns about the distractions posed by smartphones and the many apps that Americans are using while behind the wheel.
“Your smartphone becomes so many different things that it’s not just a communication device,” Anthony Foxx, secretary of the Transportation Department, told the Times. “Distraction is still a problem. Too many people are dying and being injured on our roadways.”
The Times says the new guidelines will call on companies such as Apple and Samsung to design their future devices and operating systems to limit functionality and simplify interface when the device detects a vehicle in motion. The guidelines also call for technology to identify if a users is driving the vehicle. This would allow placing limits on the driver, while still allowing full use of devices and their apps by passengers.
The new guidelines – the first ever issued specifically for mobile device use while driving by the N.H.T.S.A. – are voluntary, and the agency cannot force manufacturers to adopt them. However, past guidelines issued by the agency for navigation and entertainment centers in vehicles have been adopted by car manufacturers for the most part.
Apple has made efforts in the past to make it easier for drivers to make use of their iPhone, while continuing to keep an eye on the road. CarPlay, introduced in 2014, allows a vehicle’s infotainment center to display services and apps form the iPhone on the vehicle’s built-in console display. The system allows users to interact with their iPhone, accessing various iOS features via Siri voice commands, instead of looking at their console or iPhone display.