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Coalition calls on mobile industry to introduce opt-out driving mode

Making an ‘opt-out’ driving mode standard across mobile handsets could tackle “the needless deaths and serious injuries caused by drivers using handheld mobile phones behind the wheel”.

Coalition calls on mobile industry to introduce opt-out driving mode

Coalition calls on mobile industry to introduce opt-out driving mode

That’s the message from a group of road charities and organisations that has written to Android, Microsoft and the GSMA (Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association) urging them to follow Apple’s suit in introducing the safety function.

Expected for launch this week, Apple’s new iOS 11 update for the iPhone will include a ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ feature that will enable the iPhone to detect when users are driving and automatically silence notifications, keep the screen dark and help avoid any temptation to check the phone.

Safety organisations including Brake and the RAC’s Be Phone Smart campaign, together with the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety and other organisations have applauded the new feature and urged Android and Microsoft to pledge to roll out an opt-out driving mode in their next updates, as they warn that mobile use behind the wheel has reached epidemic levels.

Department for Transport figures for 2015 – the latest year for which figures are available in Great Britain – show that 22 people were killed and 99 were seriously injured in incidents where a driver was using their handheld phone when behind the wheel.

RAC Be Phone Smart spokesman Pete Williams said: “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.

“Apple’s imminent 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.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.