Should our smartphones have a "Dumb" mode for drivers?

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An interesting question from Jeff Pulver on his blog – should our phones have a “dumb” mode that allows nothing but phone calls to come through? The goal of course is to reduce needless accidents as people text, browse and generally use their phone to communicate and distract them from driving (see also AOL’s The Last Text campaign).

Having a mode similar to an airplane mode that would restrict a device to just the calls is an admirable idea, but would likely need a mix of legislation and education over a number of years to make it work. Is the idea a bit too much nanny-state or is it as legitimate as restricting the amount of alcohol and stigmatising drunk driving?

Does this sounds over a bit protective? Maybe so. But why do we have to experience another death due to someone texting before someone taking a proactive move and mandates a law to stop the use of phones in cars that offer any functionality beyond voice?

 ...Want a quick compromise solution? So would I. What I would love to see is for Smart Phone vendors to introduce “dumbphone” mode. Just like how the iPhone and other Smart Phones now have a “Airplane Mode” where they only use WiFi, a great first step would be to be able to put the phone into “DUMB Phone” mode which would turn off all of the data services and texting and just enable the device to make and receive phone calls.

There’s already a fair amount of debate on Pulver’s blog on the issue, both on the idealistic view and the practical problems.