With almost a third of Brits admitting to using their mobile phones at the wheel, it’s no surprise that this contributes to hundreds of deaths every year on our roads.

Apple have recently introduced a safe driving mode for the iPhone in the iOS 11 update, preventing drivers from receiving messages and calls whilst driving. The feature also lets contacts know the driver is occupied.

This move by Apple has been widely applauded by police and road safety advocates, with them agreeing the feature could help prevent drivers from being distracted by their phones whilst driving, ultimately saving lives.

How does it work?

There’s a number of ways your iPhone can recognise you’re behind the wheel.

The biggest indication that someone’s in their car is their iPhone connected to a car’s Bluetooth network. But whilst not everyone has Bluetooth in their car, Apple have also taken into account other signals that you may be driving.

For example, the device’s accelerometer, the rate at which the iPhone finds and loses Wi-Fi networks, along with its GPS signal can all be indicators that you’re behind the wheel.

Whilst we agree that this is a superb new safety feature, there are some pitfalls. The feature is turned on by default and is automatically activated – great if you’re in the car, but there have been reports of passengers and public transport users being affected by this too.

But as with all Apple updates, it’s likely that the feature will evolve over time to become more accurate, as they analyse more data about who is and isn’t driving.

What happens when it’s activated?

When the safe driving mode is activated, the iPhone will silence notifications to prevent drivers from being distracted by their devices.

In addition, it darkens the screen – a useful feature when driving at night – and also makes the device itself trickier to unlock.

iPhone users can set up and customise automatic message replies to let their contacts know they’re driving and cannot respond, along with opting to receive notifications for messages which could in fact be urgent.

The app prevents users from receiving calls too, but again, the user can choose who they wish to receive calls from, useful in case of an emergency at home.

But don’t worry – if you have a Bluetooth hands free kit set up in your car, you will still be able to take calls using this even whilst Do Not Disturb While Driving is activated.

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