Do Not Disturb While Driving – use of cellphone blockers among adult drivers

Reagan, Ian J. / Cicchino, Jessica B.
Safety Science
April 2020

Introduction: Cellphone blockers are an emerging countermeasure for limiting driver distraction. This study focused on Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving (DND) application because of its unique rollout where owners were prompted to try it as part of a software update.
Method: A telephone survey of 800 adult drivers who own smartphones was conducted to estimate cellphone blocker use. Logistic regression estimated relationships between cellphone blocker use and likelihood of reported cellphone use while driving.
Results: Only 20.5% of respondents with DND-compatible iPhones had DND set to activate automatically when driving or when connected to a vehicle’s Bluetooth. Among respondents with DND-incompatible phones, 18.7% of respondents reported having an alternative non-DND blocker, and only half of these reported turning it on while driving at least three quarters of the time. Thirty-nine percent of drivers with DND-compatible iPhones who had DND set to turn on when manually activated trip-by-trip said they would not be frustrated if they received another prompt to use the application, and 26.7% reported they would be likely to try it if they received another prompt. Respondents classified as using blockers were less likely to report cellphone use, although results varied between those with DND and other blockers.
Conclusion: Cellphone blockers have potential to limit cellphone distractions, although it is uncertain whether differences in behaviors reported here are caused by blockers or are a result of drivers selecting to use blockers because they are averse to phone use while driving. Practical applications: Prompts to activate cellphone blockers from providers may increase their use.