How Effective Are “Do Not Disturb” Apps in Preventing Texting and Driving?

Published on Mar 29, 2022 at 5:55 pm in Car Accidents.

Person driving with phone on mount

Smartphones are a core feature of today’s society, and they are not going anywhere any time soon. While it can be beneficial to carry around what equates to a miniature computer with you, there are some serious downsides too.

Texting while driving has become a growing problem for Baltimore drivers. Distracted driving kills thousands of people every year, but some technology companies think they have a solution—Do Not Disturb apps.

Setting your phone to its Do Not Disturb setting or using an app will limit how you interact with your phone while driving. While this can certainly be effective for preventing texting and driving, the problem comes down to usage. Many drivers actively choose not to use these settings and apps, even if it puts them at a greater risk of causing a car accident.

What Are Do Not Disturb Apps?

Perhaps the most well-known smartphone app is Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. This feature has been available since 2017 and can be used on iPhone 6 and all newer models. This feature automatically turns on when your phone connects to your car’s Bluetooth system.

Apple’s Do Not Disturb feature works by muting all incoming notifications and calls. It can also send an auto-reply text message to anyone who calls or texts you to let them know that you’re driving. You won’t be able to access social media or other apps while this feature is turned on, either.

Android and Pixel phones have similar functions, although the Android’s Do Not Disturb function has to be enabled manually from the settings. If you do not like the pressure of having to remember to toggle your “Do Not Disturb” setting on and off, there are apps that work automatically that you can download on phones with these operating systems. These apps will usually set your phone to Do Not Disturb if it senses motion specific to driving or connects to your vehicle’s Bluetooth.

How Effective Are Do Not Disturb Apps?

Overall phone use while driving decreased from 2014 to 2018. Most smartphones have had Do Not Disturb settings for several years, with Apple adding it to the iOS in 2012. Its Do Not Disturb While Driving app did not become a feature until 2017 though, so it is unclear exactly how much it has helped in bringing down texting and driving rates.

However, based on some drivers’ self-reported experiences, Do Not Disturb apps and settings are helpful. According to a survey from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 75% of drivers who use these apps do not find them inconvenient and even think they should be automatically enabled on all smartphones.

The biggest barrier to these apps’ efficacy is getting drivers to actually use them. Another IIHS survey determined that only 20% of drivers with iPhones that have the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature actually use it.

Even those who do use it can easily override the feature by tapping their finger on the phone’s Do Not Disturb message and then selecting that they are not driving. This quick and easy override makes the feature less effective overall.

These features do not wholly prevent distracted driving, either. Many Do Not Disturb apps, including Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving feature, still allow drivers to use voice-enabled technology to make and receive phone calls. Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation that may draw a driver’s eyes away from the road and toward the screen will still appear, too.

How to Enable Do Not Disturb Features

As a safe driver, you should be certain that your phone’s Do Not Disturb features or apps are correctly enabled. Here is how you can check:

  • iPhones. If you have an iPhone, go to your Settings and then Do Not Disturb. From there, you will tap Activate. After doing so, you’ll have to select whether Do Not Disturb While Driving is set to Automatically, Manually, or When Connected to Car Bluetooth. If you select Automatically, the feature will activate when your phone senses motion and movement associated with driving, while When Connected to Bluetooth will cause it to activate when your phone connects to your vehicle’s Bluetooth. If you select Manually, you will be responsible for turning this feature on and off every time you get into and out of your car.
  • Androids. Although Android phones have features that make it easier to interact with phones while driving, they do not have a dedicated feature for Do Not Disturb when you’re operating your vehicle. If you have an Android, you can manually enable Do Not Disturb by placing your finger at the top of your screen and then swiping down. From there, you can tap on Do Not Disturb. Once you arrive at your destination, you can easily disable it the same way. If you do not like the idea of having to manually turn this setting on and off, you can download apps that can automatically do it through the Play Store.
  • Google Pixels. If you own a Google Pixel 2, you’ll first access your Settings, tap on Sound, and then tap on Do Not Disturb. Select Turn on Automatically, tap Add Rule, then choose Driving. On a Google Pixel 3, you’ll access your Settings, tap Connected Devices, then Connection Preferences, and then Driving Mode. Select Behavior and then choose Turn on Do Not Disturb. Select Turn on Automatically and tap either When Connected to Bluetooth or When Driving is Detected.

Texting and Driving Statistics

The reality is that texting and driving kills and injures far too many people every year. If more people used Do Not Disturb features and apps, we could see an improvement in statistics like:

If your phone does not have a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature, or you are hesitant about enabling it, you can still take smart steps to minimize distractions. When driving, always turn your phone to silent and place it out of reach. Avoid checking notifications, even at stop signs or red lights. Wait until you’ve reached your destination to reply to any text messages or return any phone calls.

Taking Charge of Your Injuries

If a driver who was texting and driving caused the accident in which you were injured, you might need help. Recovering from car accident injuries can be a long process with many added challenges along the way, including unexpected medical bills that you might not be in any position to pay.

Contact us at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC if you’re ready to take action. During your free consultation, one of our Baltimore car accident attorneys will guide you through your options for seeking compensation for things like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.



Fill out the form below about your potential case and a personal injury lawyer will get back to you as quickly as possible.