UX Challenge: Eliminate Texting While Driving


Preface: No matter how hard we try, there is always a temptation to reach out to our phones while driving. That tiny little notification, that incomplete text message in the notification bar, always pushes us to open up the phone when we are behind the wheel.

Here are general cell phone statistics : The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving . 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving .

Problem: Avoidable deaths due to distracted driving caused by the use of phones.

Challenge: Design a system that renders phones useless while driving. It could be a particular setting or an app or a physical device. How could you make it hard to access yet useful during emergencies?

Please follow the following guidelines to solve the UX challenge:

  1. Understand the problem before jumping into solving it.
  2. Propose at least 2 ways the problem could be solved.
  3. What would the alternate universe look like where this problem never existed. You need to narrow down to the scope of the problem.

[Image Credit: https://mom.me/lifestyle/18693-texting-and-driving/]

Let us know if you have any feedback.


Problem: Driver get distracted by text messages

Challenge: Design a system that prevent the usage of the phone while driving.

Solution #1: App that tracks the movement of your phone in space. If you moving fast, app going to lock your phone. It will unlock after 5 min of not moving fast in space. (I am not sure about speed but it will be allowable to walk with phone)

If someone will call you or text a message, app will blink the flashlight and after that it will voice over the name of who it is.

You can unlock the phone only 5 times. For each attempt you have 5 min to use your phone. Each attempt reloads in 15 min.

Solution #2: App that locks and responds only to your voice after you get in the car. It’s allowable to make different actions by voice but not with touching. Something like Siri.

Scope of the problem: People get distracted.

Alternative universe solution: Every car has an auto-pilot function for every car, like in Tesla cars. (Maybe it will be possible in future. But right now, is not perfect and people don’t trust that function fully. But in future it will be in demand for everyone.)


Why this specific restriction? I think if the user is still in the car he/she shouldn’t be allowed to use the phone at all except for emergencies. How can you make sure that the phone is indeed in the car and is unusable except for emergencies. May be if the car is stopped the phone automatically unlocks.
Good thinking though. You are on the right track.


Problem: Avoidable deaths due to distracted driving caused by the use of phones.

Solution: A small glove box that has the following properties:

  1. Direct connection to ignition.
  2. Has bluetooth and is connected to the driver’s phone.
  3. The phone needs to be inserted into the glove box. The bluetooth connection will verify that the phone is in the box.
  4. The box then signals a go-ahead and enables the ignition. This lets the user start the car.
  5. The glove box locks once the car starts.
  6. The car needs to be switched off to take the phone out.


Phones are constantly left in the dashboard, cup holders, or phone stands within reach of the driver making it easy to respond to any text that may come in while on the road.
This is a problem according to the statistics provided and can be a great distraction to the driver.

One thing that the Apple iPhone does well for this problem is the use of the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature. You can switch this on in your phone’s settings and have a custom message sent whenever people try messaging you on the road. Once you switch it back off, the notifications will come flooding in.
The only problem with this is that it doesn’t account for emergencies.

One thing that could be helpful is to extend this feature to allow emergency messages to come in. They could instead have a message return to the messenger asking if this is an emergency, then type in ‘EMERGENCY’ and it will send your original message to the driver.

[Image Credit: https://images.pexels.com/photos/230557/pexels-photo-230557.jpeg?auto=compress&cs=tinysrgb&dpr=2&h=750&w=1260]

My proposed solutions:

#1: When you get in your car, wake up your phone to view the lock screen and tap a car icon (if Android) or swipe up and tap a car icon (if iPhone) to put the phone in ‘Driver mode’ and it will lock your device. Making it incapable of unlocking until you tap that icon to turn it off.
It will only allow ‘Emergency’ calls and notifications to display and be able to answer. Users who are trying to contact you will get a notification in response (or if a call, a recorded message) telling the user that the person is driving and will get your message later, but if it’s an emergency to press 1 or type in ‘Emergency’ if a text. The driver will then get the text or see an incoming call.

#2: For drivers who easily forget to turn on a features like ‘Do Not Disturb’ while driving, an easy solution could be to have some bluetooth connectivity feature where you have a bluetooth device in your car that senses your phone has entered the vehicle it will connect and make your phone incapable of unlocking and will only be able to allow emergency calls or texts to notify the driver. It would also have to account for the fact that there may be passengers in the vehicle and to not disable their devices. So it would need to have their device added to the bluetooth device’s list of phones to connect to.
I’m not entirely sure if this is possible, but it’s an idea nonetheless.


Great answer @halebales24. For #2, I think a box with bluetooth connection would work.
As soon as a person enters the car, the box locks the phone and the only way to make an emergency call would be to push a button on the box that will automatically dial emergency.