What’s Up with Apple’s ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ Feature?

If you own an iPhone, you’re probably familiar with the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature, which effectively disables the phone when your car is in motion. But how exactly does it work, and why did Apple decide to develop it? Here, we’ll provide answers to those questions and explore the social ramifications of this potentially life-saving feature.

The Feature

When the Do Not Disturb (DND) function is activated, the iPhone stops displaying notifications if its sensors indicate that it’s in a moving vehicle. The feature was implemented as a means of discouraging drivers from engaging in distracted behavior when they’re behind the wheel. Since nearly 25 percent of car crashes in the United States are caused by texting and driving, Apple added this safety measure in an effort to combat this dangerous epidemic.

How to Use It

There are several ways to engage the DND function. To begin, users must go to Settings, then click on the Control Center button, followed by the Customize Controls option. There should be a plus sign enclosed in a green circle to the left of the words “Do Not Disturb.” Clicking on this icon will enable the feature. Depending on the age of the iPhone, the function can be disabled by swiping from the top right corner of the screen (on an iPhone X or newer) or from the bottom (an iPhone 8 or older). You can opt to make the DND function automatic, or turn it on manually each time you get behind the wheel. If you have a Bluetooth device, the feature will turn on automatically when it’s connected to the hands-free system.

The Impact

Nine people are killed and over one thousand people are injured daily in car accidents caused by distracted driving. With the advent of DND, however, there’s a reason to hope that these numbers will decrease over time. Already, a poll found that 8 percent of respondents reported that their phone usage decreased when they used the feature. Additionally, three-quarters of those same participants felt that the function improved their driving habits.

What Makes It Stand Out

When the feature was rolled out in the autumn of 2017, iPhone users received an alert the first time the device was placed inside a moving vehicle, asking if they wanted to enable Do Not Disturb While Driving. This proactive approach is typical of Apple’s attention to detail and emblematic of the company’s commitment to safe cell phone usage. Other factors were taken into consideration as well. For example, if you’re worried about missing important calls, fear not. Phone calls from your Favorites will still be delivered, as with standard Do Not Disturb protocol, and you’ll receive a notification if there are back-to-back calls from the same person. In addition, you’ll be notified of emergency texts and alarms, and the Maps feature will continue to give turn-by-turn navigation. 

In short, there’s no reason not to take advantage of Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. It’s simple to use, and deactivation is just as easy (for instance, if you’re in a car that someone else is driving). Most importantly, it could save a life.

Related: How to Use Your Phone in the Car


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