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What is Apple's Do Not Disturb While Driving App?

Distracted driving is the leading cause of auto accidents in the U.S. and is an ongoing concern as accidents caused by distracted drivers continue to rise. This fall, the tech mogul Apple introduced a new app to promote safe driving called Do Not Disturb While Driving. Advocates say it can help prevent distracted driving.

The feature prevents users from receiving messages and calls while driving. If the device owner chooses, the app lets contacts know the phone owner is driving by sending them a customizable message.

What does it do?

The safe driving mode can detect when owners are driving and silence notifications so they are not disturbed while behind the wheel. The phone's screen also stays dark so drivers cannot easily read messages. It also makes the phone more difficult to unlock. The feature can be activated automatically, via a Bluetooth connection or manually. The default setting is to have the app work automatically.

Depending on how you customize settings, if someone needs to reach you they can call twice in a row and you can allow the calls to come through the second time, or get an alert letting you know someone is trying to contact you. If a text message is urgent, the sender can send a follow up message containing the word "urgent" to alert you. You would then have to pull over to read the message or ask Siri to read it to you. If the car has Bluetooth, phone calls will come through normally even if the app is activated.

How does it work?

If the car is Bluetooth enabled, it will sync to the Bluetooth network and turn on automatically. Since not every vehicle is equipped with Bluetooth it can use other signals to detect driving. The app will use the iPhone's GPS and built in accelerometer. The accelerometer determines how fast the phone is moving by detecting how quickly it can find and lose nearby Wi-Fi networks.

The feature is optional, but having it turned on could save your life. Even if you choose not to enable the app, recognizing the need for fewer distractions on the road is paramount toward preventing accidents. How can you commit to improving driver safety in 2018?

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