Cell Phone Disablers Coming Soon?
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The government is evaluating options for the disablement of cell phones while operating motor vehicles, according to Discovery News.
Raymond LaHood, the Secretary of Transportation was quoted on MSNBC’s Morning Joe saying, “There’s a lot of technology out there now that can disable phones and we’re looking at that.”
“But you have to have good laws, you have to have good enforcement, and you have to have people take personal responsibility. That’s the bottom line,” he added.
The cell phone disabling devices are being considered, in part, because an estimated 5,500 died in auto accidents in 2009 as a result of distracted driving – another half a million or so were injured.
Paul Atchley, a scientist who studies distracted driving at the University of Kansas, believes “that’s a low estimate” because it does not include suspected deaths or injuries, which are “likely far higher, and will only get higher.”
How will it work?
There is currently no Federal law against using a cell-phone while operating a motor vehicle.
However, there are several states that prohibit texting while driving in an effort to reduce the number of deaths or injuries.
Several other states forbid drivers from using hand-held cell phones.
At this time, hardware, such as cell phone jammers, are illegal, and the FCC isn’t likely to approve any kind of jamming equipment.
These would theoretically work when a car or a cell-phone reach a certain speed (determined by the car and transmitted via Bluetooth or the speed of the cell phone itself, as measured by cell phone towers), at which point they would be automatically disabled.
Atchley doesn’t believe this will work, as most of these services are voluntary – he believes the real answer is to change people’s attitude regarding distracted driving.
The research on drunk driving and distracted driving is quite similar, but the reactions of people to both are far different.
“When we ask young drivers about drunk driving, they say that judges should throw the book at drunk drivers, but not the person texting while driving,” said Atchley.
“The bottom line is that people want to use these devices,” he concluded. “And things are going to get worse before they get better.”
And while texting drivers are six times more likely to get in an accident, a recent survey found that texting isn’t the biggest distraction while driving.
So take caution while driving!