Driving Me Safely With This App

Microsoft recently released the Windows Phone GDR3 (general distribution release 3) update, which included some behind-the-scenes code improvements as well as some new features for Windows Phone devices. One of those features is Driving Mode. I’ve been using Driving Mode for about a week now. Honestly, it’s brilliant.

Driving Mode is a built-in setting/application, accessible in Settings, that allows you to reject calls and/or texts while driving. For both calls and texts, you can set auto-text replies with a custom message (the same message is used for both). My message, which is just a small change from the default message, is “I’m driving right now, I’ll get back to you later … (auto-sent from Driving Mode on Windows Phone)”.┬áThe application starts automatically when paired to your car’s Bluetooth or any other Bluetooth device. You can link multiple devices and independently enable or disable them to activate Driving Mode when they pair with your phone.

At first I thought Driving Mode was just a “neat” feature — “Oh cool, something new to play with”. But after using it now for just a week I can tell you, at least for me, it has completely changed my driving experience. We’ve all read about the dangers of talking and texting while driving, and we all think those rules don’t apply to us because we think we’re more conscientious than the average person and don’t get easily distracted. And that’s nonsense, of course.

For many, myself included, smartphones have become an extension of our selves. We don’t go anywhere without them. We constantly check them to see if we’ve received an “important” message or if someone has shared a pic of their latest meal. We’ve programmed ourselves to be hyper-sensitive and hyper-reactive to anything related to our smartphones. As such, when we get a call or an email or a text message, no matter how focused we think we are on driving, our attention immediately shifts to the smartphone. Distraction sets in.

With Driving Mode, I’m slowly programming myself to not even think about my phone while driving. And it’s not that hard. At first you’ll feel odd because “surely someone has texted me from the time I got in my car to the time I got on the freeway, I must have a bad connection”. But slowly you forget your phone is even on. There’s no ringing, no buzzing. Your phone sits by your side, ready in case of emergency, but otherwise silent. Before you know it you find yourself consciously paying attention to your driving. You’re more aware of your surroundings. You’re safer. And best of all, you’re more relaxed because you’re not constantly being bombarded by people begging you to pay attention to them.

So give Driving Mode a try and see how it changes your driving experience. At the very least, hopefully you’ll be a safer driver for using it.