Sunday, 5 March 2017

"Distracted living"

The penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving in the UK became harsher from the beginning of this month. And I'm fine with that - as far as I'm concerned, if you're caught doing anything as idiotically irresponsible as phoning, texting or watching vids behind the wheel, without giving a thought to the fact that you might kill somebody, there are no excuses.

Mind you, it would also help if not being idiotically irresponsible became the easy default choice, rather than the tough choice that takes active willpower, which it is now. It's currently the tougher choice to do the right thing because both your addictive, always-on device and the content that you consume with it are designed to be distracting and hard to switch off:
Most phones have an “airplane mode”, but not an obvious “drive mode”, despite the fact that your phone is vastly more likely to cause an accident in a car than in a plane. That should change. Smartphones should have, as standard, an easily accessible, well-publicised drive mode. Drive modes do exist, and in the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been pushing the idea. But they’re not prominent.

Drive-mode phones might automatically read out text messages, automatically reply to such messages with “sorry, I’m driving”, and send incoming calls directly to voice mail — while allowing drivers to play music and use satellite navigation. In short, drive-mode phones would stop pestering us for our attention.

But why aren’t drive modes more popular?

... Many of us want to be distracted less by our phones — not just while driving, but in meetings, during conversations, at mealtimes and in the bedroom. The phones themselves want something rather different. Distracted driving is an acute symptom of a wider problem: distracted living.
 Tim Harford

Or you could just turn your phone off while driving. Take back control of your own attention.