February 1, 2012

By now most people are aware of the dangers of distracted driving, and in particular the potential hazard of driving while using a cell phone to call or text. Despite increased awareness, however, motorists continue to engage in these risky behaviors. This has prompted federal regulators to ask for help from the electronics industry.

In an effort to prevent motor vehicle accidents from texting while driving, and other similar behaviors, earlier this month the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) requested that those in the electronics industry develop technologies that block phones and other devices from being used while someone is driving. The agency also asked that such blocking technology allow for an exception for emergency calls.

This request from the NTSB may seem like a tall order, but already technology isn’t too far off from achieving such a goal. Currently, some companies provide options where cellphones will divert texts and calls if the phone is moving above a certain speed, like 10 mph in a car.

The challenge is determining whether the phone belongs to a driver or passenger in the car. One idea is creating a dead zone in one part of the vehicle. However, a spokesperson for The Wireless Association said such a solution would run afoul federal laws prohibiting the blocking of radio signals. The emergency call exception is an easier fix; certain numbers like 911 could be programmed as exceptions to the blocking technology.

Drivers, however, don’t have to wait for this technology to be developed if they want to prevent car accidents. All motorists have to do is turn off their phone whenever they get behind the wheel.

Source:, “Going Places: Feds seek technology to block drivers’ calls, text,” Feb. 12, 2012


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