Apple has announced its iOS 11 software update will include a new "Do Not Disturb While Driving" mode for iPhones.
The new safety feature aims to help reduce distracted driving by detecting when someone is driving and silencing all notifications. Drivers won’t even be able to access the homescreen to open any apps until you’re no longer behind the wheel.
Apple has included an automatic text feature which will notify friends and family that you’re driving.
The do not disturb feature follows hot on the heels of the UK’s recent clampdown on drivers caught using a mobile phone. On 1 March 2017, penalty points doubled from three to six and a £200 fine was introduced.
In 2015 - the latest year for which figures are available - 22 people were killed and 99 seriously injured in accidents where a driver was using their mobile phone.
Jason Wakeford, spokesman for road safety charity Brake, said: "This new feature is to be welcomed and will help drivers stay focused on the road and not their phones. Mobile use behind the wheel is a growing menace and so Brake would like to see similar initiatives from other phone manufactures to help cut distractions in the car.”
Drivers who divide their attention between their phone and the road are significantly increasing their risk of causing a devastating crash.
A Brake study of in-vehicle video footage estimated one in five (22%) road crashes could be caused, at least in part, by driver distraction.
Apple’s new safety mode, which is due to be released this autumn, detects when you’re driving based on movement and if you’re connected to the car via Bluetooth or a lead.
Passengers travelling in the car can select the ‘I’m not driving’ mode to avoid being locked out of their handsets.
Developers have also kept in mind drivers who rely on their iPhones to get them from A to B so have added a special mode to apps such as Maps. Drivers using the app for directions will be able to see the route but won’t be able to interact with the phone or update the journey while they’re moving.
The iOS 11 update also includes some handy updates to Apple Maps – new lane guidance arrows and road speed limits.