Govt wants the technology to disable cell phones in cars?

Using a cell phone in a car could soon be impossible.
The Department of Transportation wants to disable cell phones inside cars.
Laws are unlikely to change behavior, contend some experts.

Not content with laws banning talking or texting while driving, the U.S. Department of Transportation is considering adding technology to automobiles that would disable cell phones. The move is a response to the growing number of deaths and injuries related to distracted driving.

"I think the technology is there," said Raymond LaHood, the Secretary of Transportation. "And I think you’re going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones."

In addition to his comments on disabled cell phones, LaHood also announced a new video campaign, "Faces of Distracted Driving." The series of online videos tells the stories of several victims of distracted driving. The DoT plans to add a new video every few weeks.

During his talk last week LaHood said that nearly 5,500 people died from distracted driving last year, and that about half a million were injured. That’s a low estimate, according to Paul Atchley, a scientist at the University of Kansas who studies distracted driving.

LaHood’s figures only account for known deaths or injuries — suspected deaths or injuries aren’t included. The real numbers, said Atchley, are likely far higher, and will only get higher.

While there is no federal law against using a cell phone while driving a vehicle, dozens of states 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.

According to LaHood, laws aren’t enough. Instead he plans to fight technology with technology. Hardware, such as cell phone jammers, are illegal, and the FCC isn’t likely to approve any kind of jamming equipment. That leaves software from companies like Zoomsafter, tXtBlocker and iZup.

While the specifics differ, the general idea is the same. When a cell phone or a vehicle exceeds a certain speed, determined by the car and transmitted via Bluetooth or by the speed of the cell phone itself as measured by cell phone towers, the phone is automatically disabled.

That won’t work, said Atchley. Most of these services are voluntary. It is not difficult for users to either not activate them, or to work around them.

The real answer to the problem is a change in people’s attitudes. 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," said Atchley. "And things are going to get worse before they get better."

Discovery News

Isn’t kids in the backseat crying and fighting also a distraction to a driver?

I remember when people were wanting to ban car stereos because they thought that too was the reason there were so many wrecks.

14 responses on “Govt wants the technology to disable cell phones in cars?

  1. ZonieGirl

    For some of us our car is our office. People need to use common sense when using these devices in their car. There are a number of hands free devices people can use. I pull off the road if the conversation is going to require that I write something down or will call back later if the conversation will take more than a few minutes.

    What is next? Will they ban using the car radio, smoking or eating in the car too? How about putting on makeup or shaving? I have seen that too. And yes, fighting kids in the back seat is definitely a distraction. Should we put them in the trunk or install a Plexiglas barrier behind the driver?

  2. L.T.M.

    That’s it! Ban kids in the back seat! )

    Edit: On a serious note, you may be wasting your time posting this. People have been conditioned to accept forfeiture of their freedoms, not only for safety but simply for convenience sake.

  3. SD TOO

    I agree, I have been in near accidents every time I am on the highway because of someone on a cell phone and usually it is young inexperienced drivers.

  4. ss794

    The federal government is far too over-reaching. They need to concentrate on foreign affairs and leave the domestic issues to the states.

  5. jaymes_07

    Horrible idea. The technology wouldn’t be able to differentiate between a driver and a passenger using a phone. Why should passengers be punished?

  6. JimmieTFan

    I have no problem with that as long as the following two rules are followed.
    1.) If I shut off my car, my cell phone can work as normal.
    2.) Another person’s car cannot disable my cell phone if I am not sitting in it. The disable strength cannot be strong enough to reach outside of your own vehicle.

  7. JW

    Welcome to the land of liberal compassion. They ‘know’ what is best for you. This is just the next bit of intrusiveness into your life.

    Started with cigarettes, working through food and beverages, and lib busybodies will not stop until they have control of every aspect of your life.

    It is for ‘the children’, after all.

    And besides, you ought to be grateful and say "Thank You" for their willingness to butt in to your life and choices.

  8. ToxicP3

    Provided the technology can make an exception for calls to 911 (example, someone is following you or your wife whereby pulling over is not safe) and the technology knows the difference between the car moving and when the car is stopped. I mean if you stop at a rest area and are sitting in your car that is shut off, why shouldn’t you be able to make a call? Getting out into an area filled with noise (next to an interstate) to make a call is kind of obnoxious.

  9. peachy

    Another example of big daddy government trying to create a Eutopia out of our nation…impossible to do, but as long as there are liberal do-gooders who think everyone should do and say exactly as they want AND as long as the rest of us that believe (as the MAJORITY do) that government should be reduced in this nation, just sit back and let it happen, we will continue to be overrun by all these socially correct laws and restrictions.

    Bottom line is…we are human beings…not perfect beings. Shit happens daily and, unfortunately, it will result in people getting hurt or dying. The ONLY solution to this would be to just sit in a bubble and try not to touch, feel, smell, or in any way engage anbody or anything at any time!

    You cannot fix stupid. Stupid people will ALWAYS get in the way of sane people and cause havok, death, or dismemberment of some kind. The only defense is a strong offense…that is to say, when you are driving, drive defensively. Don’t expect the moron in the other car to stop at the stop sign. Be ready to do so yourself, if needed. Don’t expect the guy behind you to be watching for your brake lights…that’s why you have a rearview mirror…keep an alert eye on everything around you.

    Most of all, don’t expect that you will go through life without an accident of some kind. Does the government actually believe that taking away the cell phones in cars will stop accidents? Yes, realistically, it will probably reduce them, but at what cost? Yes, there is no price that can be put on a human life, but we are back to "you can’t fix stupid," aren’t we? There will ALWAYS be that something out there that some peabrain makes dangerous, but that the majority of people can manage to do without incident.

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