Could An Ignition-Activated 'Car Mode' Keep Drivers From Texting?

Could an Ignition-Activated

Texting while driving accounts for more and more accidents every year, but there's no clear solution in sight (unless you think these new SMS rest stops will work). New York designer Joey Cofone is proposing another idea: An iOS "Car Mode", akin to flight mode, that would prevent you from texting while your car is in motion.

Here's how it would work: Whenever you're driving, Car Mode would vastly simplify the iOS user interface, getting rid of notifications, clocks, texts, and any and all noises (though navigation and hands-free calling would still work). If you do get a text, Car Mode would automatically shoot one back to the sender alerting them that you're en route somewhere. Finally, when you arrive, the command centre would supply a full report on what you missed.

It's a bit like the simplified UI Android users can activate while driving — except, as Cofone pointed out, that it doesn't actually promote using your phone at all. "My Car Mode approach is the opposite," he explained over email. "When CM is activated the screen is completely static until you exit, upon which it shows a review of the messages you've missed."

It sounds like common sense. But there's one big UX dilemma: Will anyone actually use it, if they're not forced to? Cofone imagines that Bluetooth-enabled cars would link up Car Mode automatically. "Apple, in theory, can partner with car insurance companies (much like they partner with all sorts of other services)," he adds. For example, logging enough Car Mode hours could help to lower your car insurance rates — a bit like Nest's deal with energy companies.

Cofone's concept won first prize at a live design charrette at the AIGA's annual conference in early October, but for now, it's just a concept. After all, it's easy to imagine iPhone users being peeved enough to find loopholes around Car Mode, as well.

So, what do you think? Can a UI save us from ourselves?

Could an Ignition-Activated
Could an Ignition-Activated



    GDR3 on Windows Phone here, I can set car mode to recognize a Bluetooth device, so have it activate when connecting to ny car or bike helmet. Disables all notifications except for call and SMS, although you do have the option of disabling both and sending an auto text back. I don't feel the need to though as I can reply to texts via voice through the Bluetooth anyway.

    A simplified UI to go with this would be nice, so I'll be purchasing the Nokia wireless charging dock for my car too.

    I have an idea, it's pretty left of centre and probably unrealistic, but this has worked for me since I got my first mobile phone. When you are driving, don't 'ken touch your phone! If you must answer that call, read or write that sms, or call your GF to say you'll be 3 minutes late - pull over. Knobs.

      Finally. I was beginning to think all motorists in this country were complete idiots.

      If y phone rings I hand it to a passenger (or if it's in my pocket, I ignore it).

      Nothing is ever more important than arriving alive and safely. Being late won't matter all that much if you're dead.

        You'd still be fined for handing it to a passenger under current laws. Nothing wrong with Bluetooth, personally I find Bluetooth less distracting than a passenger.

          As deonyi said, it depends on where you live. Perfectly legal to hand your phone to a passenger under the latest update to the laws in NSW (in fact, they explicitly say that it is ok).

      It seems obvious to rational adults, but immortal-feeling teenagers and other idiots don't always behave logically. Anything that encourages user-safety for those people is a step in the right direction I think.

      I'm not sure many people would use it, but having something like a push notification prompting you to enter "car mode" when the phone registers that its travelling over a certain speed would be a start.

        Not really, if it's prompting you, it's a distraction. Right now if my Lumia detects it has connected to a Bluetooth device registered as a "car" it speaks over the Bluetooth to say "I have enabled car mode for you" and that's it. No prompts.

          Good point. I didn't give it too much thought and you're right - that's a much better way. While my example was poor, my point was simply anything that encourages user safety should be encouraged, even if the "just don't use your phone" solution seems obvious to most of us.

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