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Tech giant introduces tool to combat distracted driving

Statistics from the Federal Communications Commission reveal that as many as eight people lose their lives and over 1,000 more suffer injuries in distracted driving-related crashes here in the U.S. every day. As if this wasn't dismaying enough, the FCC has also determined that as many as 660,000 people are using their smartphones or other electronic devices while driving at any given daylight moment across the nation.

Faced with sobering figures like these, it's easy to doubt whether anything can be done by lawmakers to address this epidemic. Indeed, texting while driving is already prohibited in 46 states (including Georgia), while 14 others also ban the use of handheld devices behind the wheel. Similarly, questions arise as to what, if anything, phone manufacturers can do.

Interestingly enough, Apple, maker of the ubiquitous iPhone, recently unveiled what it's calling a new solution to distracted driving at its Worldwide Developers Conference.

As part of the forthcoming iOS 11software update, Apple will introduce a "Do Not Disturb While Driving" mode. The feature is designed in such a way that the iPhone, able to detect when you are driving, will automatically mute all incoming communications from texts and tweets to emails and calls, thereby eliminating the temptation to engage in distracted driving.

In addition, an automatic reply can be sent to contacts informing them that you are driving and will get back to them after arriving at your destination.

While the move is being lauded by many, some safety advocates are pointing out two potential flaws. First, the feature can be deactivated by the phone owner and, second, certain contacts can still be allowed to get through even if the feature is activated.

It will be interesting to see how iPhone users respond to the new feature when it's released this fall. At a minimum, it's a step in the right direction.

What are your thoughts?

If the actions of a distracted driver have left you with serious personal injuries, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your rights and your options for seeking justice.   

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