Drive mode for phones coming soon

Most people are familiar with the airplane mode setting on their phone and it appears that a similar feature will soon be on offer for those behind the car steering wheel.

The new Windows phone features a 'driving mode' that silences all incoming texts and calls so drivers can focus on the road. It will also allow drivers to set up an automatic reply saying that they are driving.

This may alleviate the panic some young drivers have that they are missing an important text, as the beeping may trigger the need to check who has been trying to contact them.

Some scientists say that smartphone use has become a compulsion for many people, who cannot resist the urge to check their phones.

Driving modes and other apps will not prevent outgoing text messages or calls, but it will reduce distractions for drivers. If you're a fleet manager, you will most likely already be aware that driver distraction is a huge factor in many crashes.

Statistics from the Australian Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety (CARRS) show driver distraction is the main factor in around one quarter of all car crashes.

The idea of a driving mode is not limited to the Windows phone, although it is the most recent product to enter the market. Apple's iPhone boasts a similar feature, called 'Do Not Disturb', which also blocks all incoming texts and calls.

However, the iPhone feature must be manually set up, while the Windows version automatically turns on when the phone is connected to a bluetooth headset.

Drivers with iPhones also have the option of using Siri, the iPhone voice assistant, to read all texts and emails out loud.

Those who use Android phones are also catered for with apps that perform the job such as the 'Do Not Disturb' and 'Silencify' tools.

It could be worth discussing these features and apps with drivers of your fleet as they could help keep the roads safer. Perhaps bring them up next time you discuss fuel consumption, or fleet maintenance.