The leading cause of automobile accidents in the United States is distracted driving, and with the worldwide release of iOS 11, Apple is attempting to make the roads a safer place by helping to eliminate one of the most significant causes of distracted driving: cell phone usage.

Apple’s new feature is called Do Not Disturb While Driving, and while it is primarily automated and easy to use, I am here today to inform you as to how it works and why you should enable it.

What Do Not Disturb While Driving does

When activated, Do Not Disturb While Driving hides and silences all messages, phone calls, and notifications. Phone calls are exempt if your phone is connected to a vehicle equipped with hands-free calling capabilities.

In Settings, you can enable an option to send customizable automatic replies to Favorites, Recents, All Contacts, or No One. The recipients of these automatic replies will be presented with an option to break through the Do Not Disturb wall by replying to the message with the word “urgent”. When this is done, you will be notified of the sender’s message. This ensures that you are reachable in the case of an emergency. Otherwise, your notifications will be hidden until the end of your trip.

How to enable Do Not Disturb While Driving

First off, you can enable Do Not Disturb While Driving in Settings > Do Not Disturb > Do Not Disturb While Driving > Activate. Here, you will find three activation options: Automatically, When Connected to Car Bluetooth, and Manually.

Automatic activation detects motion and activates while you are moving at driving speeds.

Car Bluetooth activation automatically activates when your phone connects to your car via Bluetooth (if your car comes equipped with this feature).

Finally, with manual activation, you can choose to activate DND While Driving via a car-shaped toggle within the newly customizable Control Center. If you do not see this toggle in your Control Center, you can enable it at Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls. When attempting to access your phone after any of the above methods of activation, you can select I’m Not Driving if you are a passenger and not the driver.

Give it a try

That’s all there is to it. It’s quite simple, really. I understand that you may think of this feature as more of an annoyance than a useful safety feature, but I implore you to at least give it a try in the name of highway safety.

  • machdraught

    Here’s the big question: Can you activate DND while continuing to use a navigation program such as Maps, Waze, etc? It seems not. But if there is a way, I’d like to know it.

    • Bryce Erickson

      Correct me if I’m wrong. But couldn’t you, prior to setting the car in motion, turn on DND manually, then turn on your navi app, and once you get to your destination, manually turn DND back off?
      Since you’re obviously not fiddling with navi while the car is in motion anyways.

      • Paul Meneshian

        yea i pretty much keep my phone on DND all day.. only difference is that it doesn’t show any notification on the lockscreen while driving on ios11 as to showing notifications on the lockscreen but only when you manually wake the phone

      • machdraught

        I’ve tried that. Trouble is, there’s no way to be assured it’s working. A reminder bar top screen would be a nice feature. And my other complaint: the auto-reply to the sender is unnecessarily verbose. Not only does it include my custom response, it appends a long parenthetical phrase explaining in too many words how to break through with “urgent.” Apple needs an editor. Texters to me say they find the long message jarring. To me, it just looks sloppy.

    • czbird

      Yes you can. It only affects incoming calls and messages.

  • czbird

    Useless for me unless I can select which BT connection is elegible e.g. bike helmet or my BT2FM adapter in car.

  • nova12

    I love this feature. And I did not realize how often I was checking my phone before it. The “I’m not driving” query when I try to unlock my phone guilts me into leaving it alone while driving. Love it.

  • David Davis

    Instead of the default reply mine now is:
    “I’m driving albeit, not to meet Jesus!? I’ll attended to your message shortly after arriving at my destination”

  • Igor Flores

    It’s not working with my car’s bluetooth. Doesn’t recognize it as a “car” I guess.

    • Asif Delawalla

      I’m having this same issue!

  • John Smith

    How to get rid of this crap.

  • Robert Drysdale

    Why when I turn off this feature, my cellular data is off and I manually have to go into settings to turn it back on?

  • Glojack

    Mine DND is stuck on manually and will not give me any other options. Sprint thought it was really weird but did not know how to correct the problem. They gave up and suggested I call Apple to help me fix the problem.

    • Kiersten Fleck

      Hi, did calling Apple help you fix the problem. I am having the same issue

      • Glojack

        I didn’t call Apple. I ended up going to a different Sprint store and the manager fixed it for me. It did take him a while to figure what the problem was. Istull don’t know what he did.