Nearly 80 percent of Pennsylvania drivers say it is never acceptable to email, text, or use social media while driving, a recent AAA survey found. Yet 70 percent of drivers talk on the phone, and 87 percent engage in unsafe behavior, including driving while distracted.
More crashes involved distracted driving than drunken driving in Pennsylvania in 2017, state data show. According to AAA, 92 percent of Pennsylvania drivers are concerned that other motorists are jeopardizing their safety by using phones behind the wheel. And three-quarters of the Pennsylvania drivers surveyed in March 2019 said they would support a law banning handheld cell phone use while driving. (In Pennsylvania, only texting and driving is illegal.)
One of the simplest ways to curb your in-car phone use is to enable a “do not disturb while driving” mode on your phone. One study by a University of Pennsylvania professor who is studying the best ways to stop cell phone use while driving showed that having such a mode automatically turned on decreased phone use while driving by 50 percent. Three-quarters of drivers using that feature said it had made them safer drivers in a 2017 survey by the insurance company EverQuote.
A December study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety of iPhone users who had been prompted to try it as part of a software update found that 20 percent of people had the feature turned on. People using the iPhone feature or an external app were “less likely to report conducting phone calls and sending emails or text.”
You have two options: Turn on your phone’s built-in driving mode or download a safe-driving app.
Meanwhile, other apps aiming to motivate people to stay off their phones have begun to proliferate. Insurance and app companies alike now have ad campaigns urging drivers to stay off their devices; ZenDrive, for instance, asks people to “pledge to #TextYouLater” by posting a screenshot of your auto-response on social media and tagging friends. Geico created a “Smartdog” mascot to urge people to turn on the Do Not Disturb While Driving mode.