With its upcoming iOS 11 release, Apple announced the inclusion of a new feature called “Do Not Disturb While Driving,” or DNDWD. Designed to sense when someone is driving and block all incoming calls, texts or other alerts, DNDWD is being introduced to combat distracted driving – a contributing factor of the recent massive spike in car crashes, injuries, fatalities and insurance losses.
DNDWD will undoubtedly be a big help, but it really only addresses one half of the distraction problem, reactive distraction, when someone receives an incoming phone call, text or alert. (Though DNDWD still allows phone calls or messages from favorite contacts to pass through, it’s a meaningful attempt to address the problem).
The second type of distraction, and arguably more insidious, is proactive distraction. That’s when a driver actively engages with their phone to make a “quick” call, text, or engage with an application. Because DNDWD includes an override option, drivers who feel the need to use their phone will still be able to do so.
And therein lies the danger. Despite laws against phone use, despite the overwhelming percentage of drivers who know texting while driving is unsafe, the vast majority of us are still distracted behind the wheel.
At TrueMotion, we’ve been combating distraction and testing ways to increase safe driving by developing mobile apps that capture sensor data from smartphones to track trips and driver behavior. At the end of each trip, users receive a TrueMotion Score based on their level of distraction. Our research shows that simply making users aware of their behavior can have meaningful impact with up to 75% of our users reducing their distracted driving.
But we went further, contacting leading behavioral psychologists who suggested adding push notifications, gamification and rewards to stimulate change. For example, specific feedback might include congratulations for those who displayed safe driving behaviors and encouragement for those who displayed risky behaviors.
The results were outstanding. This type of feedback reduced incidences of distracted driving of up to 20% per trip among our users.
TrueMotion hopes that Android will follow Apple’s lead and build a similar DNDWD feature for their OS. In the meantime, we’ll continue to refine our own apps and find ways to help drivers keep their eyes on the road and their hands upon the wheel.