US regulators ask smartphone makers to implement function-limited 'driver mode'

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2016
Federal auto safety regulators looking to cut down on smartphone-related accidents and fatalities are asking device manufacturers like Apple and Samsung to develop and include a so-called "driver mode" in their products, a function-limited operating configuration akin to existing airplane mode settings.




The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday will issue a set of voluntary guidelines that requests smartphone makers implement a driver mode, or otherwise restrict users from accessing certain apps and features while driving, reports The New York Times.

"Your smartphone becomes so many different things that it's not just a communication device," said Secretary of Transportation. "Distraction is still a problem. Too many people are dying and being injured on our roadways."

According to the report, the NHTSA guidelines call on smartphone manufacturers to not only include new user limitations in future operating systems, but also develop technology capable of detecting when a device is being used by a driver while they are driving. While the agency has in the past proposed similar guidelines to in-car infotainment and navigation systems manufacturers, Wednesday's set of recommendations are the first relating to portable devices.

Regulators are looking to stem a rising tide of traffic accidents related to distracted driving, some of which have been blamed on smartphone use. While past measures concentrated on texting and talking, officials believe rules are needed to address new dangers presented by smartphones. Unlike cellphones, smart devices are complex computers capable of preforming a variety of functions through apps, from media playback to games to real-time video chats.

Whether private companies will heed the NHTSA's proposal is unclear, though many are already working to provide users with safe driving options. Apple, for example, has been developing in-car connectivity features since the early days of iPod.

Apple's most recent effort is CarPlay, a holistic in-car system built on the company's iOS operating system. Introduced in 2014, CarPlay connects with a host iPhone to display apps and services on compatible OEM infotainment touch screens.

Importantly, CarPlay grants user access to iOS features using Siri voice commands instead of looking down at their phone or an in-dash display.

Apple initially announced CarPlay availability from a host of carmakers, though the technology has been slow to rollout. It seems 2017 will be the year most car manufacturers deliver on their promise, however, as the platform is seeing adoption across a wide range of makes and models. Most recently, Jeep this month revealed its 2017 Compass will boast CarPlay compatibility at launch.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    It's about fricking time!
    pulseimagessockrolid
  • Reply 2 of 40
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    Repeat after me:

    "You can't multitask.  No matter how many Starbucks you've slammed."

    Say it.  Good.  Now remember it and try not to die.
    baconstanglolliverMacProration al
  • Reply 3 of 40
    So, how will they determine a person is driving?  My car won't allow access to certain functionality when car is moving, not even for the passenger.  Will the same apply for passengers using cell phones?
    I understand and appreciate the problem, not confident we'll get a good solution.
    entropysrobertwaltermacxpressGeorgeBMacspacekidchiaration aljbdragon
  • Reply 4 of 40
    Google has already released Android Auto to run on phones. Phone auto switches to Android Auto mode when Bluetooth connection to car has been triggered.

    In the Android Auto setup you specify which Bluetooth connections are related to your car or cars.
  • Reply 5 of 40
    How does the phone differentiate between a driver and a passenger?
    lolliverentropyscwingravrobertwalterration aljbdragon
  • Reply 6 of 40
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,461member
    saltyzip said:
    Google has already released Android Auto to run on phones. Phone auto switches to Android Auto mode when Bluetooth connection to car has been triggered.

    In the Android Auto setup you specify which Bluetooth connections are related to your car or cars.
    Will it fire the car's ejection seat if the host phone starts heating up?



    lollivermacxpress2old4funwaverboybaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 40
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,461member
    michael_c said:
    So, how will they determine a person is driving?  My car won't allow access to certain functionality when car is moving, not even for the passenger.  Will the same apply for passengers using cell phones?
    I understand and appreciate the problem, not confident we'll get a good solution.
    Well they could activate it when you have the engine is running or the electric motors are switched on. I don't think it's enough to activate it just because the car's not moving. I see a few hold ups  at traffic lights because someone is texting in their phone. 
    baconstang
  • Reply 8 of 40
    Rayz2016 said:
    michael_c said:
    So, how will they determine a person is driving?  My car won't allow access to certain functionality when car is moving, not even for the passenger.  Will the same apply for passengers using cell phones?
    I understand and appreciate the problem, not confident we'll get a good solution.
    Well they could activate it when you have the engine is running or the electric motors are switched on. I don't think it's enough to activate it just because the car's not moving. I see a few hold ups  at traffic lights because someone is texting in their phone. 
    I think a combination of GPS location using Apple Maps (to determine if you are simply stopped at an intersection), speed sensing and smart software could be used in the short term. In the long term, the government should pass a law making bluetooth mandatory in all cars as a safety feature. With all cars having bluetooth, if your phone is paired to the car, you would only have voice controls whereas all other phones in the car would be considered passenger phones and be fully usable. Of course it could be defeated by turning bluetooth pairing off on your phone but I think most people would use hands-free bluetooth pairing just for the convenience.
    ration alpalomine
  • Reply 9 of 40
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,374member
    If you are a passenger in a moving car a GPS solution won't be desirable. Similarly if it is the passenger's phone hooking into the car system via Bluetooth it isn't desirable.  This is not straightforward.
    cwingravrandominternetpersonration aljbdragon
  • Reply 10 of 40
    Imagine this headline: "US regulators ask gun makers to implement function-limited 'killer mode'"
    cwingravtomkarlfrac2old4funJessiReturnsmike1jbdragonjony0
  • Reply 11 of 40
    I've been planning to get around to creating a location profile that turns off auto-detect hands free within a few km of my house as every time I'm on a crowded bus and I get an sms my phone announces it loudly to the world. Drives me nuts but the auto-detect hands free is useful in the car. Not completely sure how they'll limit functionality without restricting passengers unless they use bluetooth. I'd happily accept some restricted functionality if it gets drivers off their phones but considering so many people use the handset rather than at least the speaker, I don't know if it'll help. I don't understand how people cannot see how badly they drive with a phone to their ear let alone texting
  • Reply 12 of 40
    I like the idea, but implementation will take a lot of thought.  Consider, in an airplane under airplane mode, only the pilot and co-pilot need NOT to be using their cellphones, for the rest of us, it is a manual choice.  Same must be true of the driver of the car, a manual choice to implement driving mode.  Passengers, then, would not be affected.  Now, how many of the much higher number of drivers on the road per day will remember to manually switch, say twice a day for their commutes?  Tough problem, but a solution is needed.  Just watch how many neighboring drivers on the highway are using their phone!
    baconstangjbdragon
  • Reply 13 of 40
    michael_c said:
    So, how will they determine a person is driving?  My car won't allow access to certain functionality when car is moving, not even for the passenger.  Will the same apply for passengers using cell phones?
    I understand and appreciate the problem, not confident we'll get a good solution.
    Will have to be a combination of GPS, motion sensing and other technologies to determine that a person is moving than a human being is able to move over a specified period of time; such as 20mph over a one minute period. Of course this would also activate the 'vehicle- function while riding a fast bike. Can't rely on bluetooth connectivity because a person must pair the phone to bluetooth and (like my vehicle) most vehicles are not equipped with such technology. Besides, it's the handheld phone that is most dangerous (2 hands on the wheel, please, /s) followed by other interactions with the phone (texting, talking, viewing web sites, etc). Can't rely on the presence of a physical connector because the connection may not be to a vehicle UNLESS the head unit sends a specific ID signal to the phone upon connection; my vehicle does not have such a capability nor can it be ungraded to do so.

    So, any solution the phone manufacturers come up with will only apply to owners of the most modern phone OS and own a more modern vehicle with upgraded tech. But it will be a beginning and people will get the new tech through phone upgrades and vehicle attrition.
  • Reply 14 of 40

    Rayz2016 said:
    michael_c said:
    So, how will they determine a person is driving?  My car won't allow access to certain functionality when car is moving, not even for the passenger.  Will the same apply for passengers using cell phones?
    I understand and appreciate the problem, not confident we'll get a good solution.
    Well they could activate it when you have the engine is running or the electric motors are switched on. I don't think it's enough to activate it just because the car's not moving. I see a few hold ups  at traffic lights because someone is texting in their phone. 
    I think a combination of GPS location using Apple Maps (to determine if you are simply stopped at an intersection), speed sensing and smart software could be used in the short term. In the long term, the government should pass a law making bluetooth mandatory in all cars as a safety feature. With all cars having bluetooth, if your phone is paired to the car, you would only have voice controls whereas all other phones in the car would be considered passenger phones and be fully usable. Of course it could be defeated by turning bluetooth pairing off on your phone but I think most people would use hands-free bluetooth pairing just for the convenience.
    Also, most vehicles with bluetooth today can only pair one phone, which is supposedly the driver. But if the passenger pairs the phone to play music, now the driver is free to text while driving on his handheld phone. No matter what tech is used to limit, the intelligent-idiot will find a way to defeat it and if the tech is too annoying the intelligent-idiot will just revert to using the phone in hand and completely avoid using the vehicle systems. The whole idea of 'Auto-Tech' is to get the phone out of the driver's hands and get the hands on the vehicle's controls, thus a system to make the hand-held phone annoying to use while in motion to force the user to plug it into the vehicle (wired or bluetooth). Voice commands, text-to-speech, and spoken voice-mail are all better than staring at a tiny screen to read a message or select activities.
  • Reply 15 of 40
    It's about fricking time!
    Based on what? Bullshit statistics made up by politicians?


    This is the problem with government, they always will create a crisis to give themselves more power, and enslave the people bit by bit.  And the gullible, like you will cheer your own enslavement.
    redraider11mike1randominternetpersonentropysjbdragon
  • Reply 16 of 40

    sockrolid said:
    Repeat after me:

    "You can't multitask.  No matter how many Starbucks you've slammed."

    Say it.  Good.  Now remember it and try not to die.
    More people die each year due to the FDA banning safe drugs that they could use to get better, than due to all auto accidents combined.

    These scumbags are not your friends, and they don't care how many people they murder with their regulations.
    redraider11
  • Reply 17 of 40
    entropys said:
    If you are a passenger in a moving car a GPS solution won't be desirable. Similarly if it is the passenger's phone hooking into the car system via Bluetooth it isn't desirable.  This is not straightforward.
    No kidding! Any attempt to fully restrict functionality based on those factors will hugely diminish the value of a phone, particularly to passenger who probably wants to send a few messages while on the ride. Bluetooth as a detection protocol is stupid; passengers use (my kids like to control the music) it or control panel -> off and you have full access. You can argue that this is personal responsibility and it is... so make car mode voluntary like airplane mode. Anyhow, all speculation for now and I will bet that this will more likely be leveraged by Apple to say "we agree, get all manufacturers to implement CarPlay".
    redraider11randominternetpersonentropys
  • Reply 18 of 40
    Fix the car, not the phone.... #DriverlessCars
    friedmudbaconstangjbdragon
  • Reply 19 of 40
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,414member
    brakken said:
    How does the phone differentiate between a driver and a passenger?
    If you're connecting to the vehicle's bluetooth system it won't. 
  • Reply 20 of 40
    Rayz2016 said:
    michael_c said:
    So, how will they determine a person is driving?  My car won't allow access to certain functionality when car is moving, not even for the passenger.  Will the same apply for passengers using cell phones?
    I understand and appreciate the problem, not confident we'll get a good solution.
    Well they could activate it when you have the engine is running or the electric motors are switched on. I don't think it's enough to activate it just because the car's not moving. I see a few hold ups  at traffic lights because someone is texting in their phone. 
    So when the car is moving, no body in the car will be able to do some things on their phones and iPads? Could make for some boring trips if the kids can't watch videos. Or may introduce other distractions when they keep crying.
    redraider11jbdragon
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