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Making roads safer: There’s an app for that

During the annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), Apple is front and center. Devotees wait to hear the latest and greatest when it comes to new products, updates and software features. This past Monday, Apple revealed that when it comes to saving lives, they now have an app for that.

An innovative feature as part of their upcoming iOS 11 does not have the sexiest or most memorable brand name. “Do Not Disturb While Driving” will make it easier Apple users operating cars and trucks to avoid the temptation of texting while driving. If it lives up to the initial hype, the feature could prevent serious and sometimes fatal motor vehicle accidents.

Via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, the “do not disturb” app will attempt to detect via Bluetooth or a Wi-Fi antenna if a user is driving while using their phone. If the mobile device in the car is moving at a fast enough speed, the screen will automatically lock and all notifications are turned off. In addition, the phone will send autoreply messages to incoming texts. Should the message be an emergency, texts can be forced to the user by responding to the autoreply message with “urgent.”

While uncharacteristically “low tech” for Apple, the app could save lives. Eight Americans are killed every day in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The National Safety Council found that one in four crashes in 2014 involved a cell phone and 341,000 car accidents occurred while the driver was texting in 2013.

Lacking a car with a Bluetooth system or Wi-Fi could present challenges in the app’s effectiveness. However, it will be worth its value if it prevents just one accident. Apple is well known for making an impact with their ever-evolving technology. Perhaps this simple feature will be the most impactful app Apple has ever introduced.

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