The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed new guidelines for a mobile phone 'driver mode', which it believes will help address distracted driving.

Texting and talking while driving

In a document that covers the second phase of the agency's voluntary guidelines to reduce driver distraction, the US DOT wants manufacturers of portable devices and aftermarket electronic device developers to design new products that offer simplified interfaces and reduce the amount of time drivers take their eyes off the road.

"As millions of Americans take to the roads for Thanksgiving gatherings, far too many are put at risk by drivers who are distracted by their cellphones," said Anthony Foxx, US Transportation secretary.

"These commonsense guidelines, grounded in the best research available, will help designers of mobile devices build products that cut down on distraction on the road."

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US DOT's proposal for the 'driver mode' involves a simplified interface and limits functionality of a phone so that certain features cannot be used - like manual text messaging and social media - while driving.

Another feature the US DOT has proposed is pairing, akin to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The concept involves linking the device to the car's infotainment system, and, like the driver mode and current smartphone mirroring systems, limits certain functions to avoid driver distraction.

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Above: Apple CarPlay

While it waits for public feedback for the guidelines, the US DOT continues to urge drivers to follow several safety precautions that are applicable to anyone getting behind the wheel:

  • Be a safe, distraction-free driver, put your cell phone down and focus on the road;
  • When using electronic devices for directions, set the destination prior to driving;
  • Speak up when you're a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to call or text for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task; and
  • Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against other unsafe drivers