The United States Government is set to vote on a bill which would force cellphone makers to create technology to disable cellphone usage while in a moving car. This technology would also disable the phones of passengers, as lawmakers believe allowing it to work for passengers could effectively allow the driver to circumvent the system.
Many states have already made it illegal to operate a cellphone while driving a vehicle, but the law has done very little to actually deter driver phone usage. It is estimated that 26% of the nation’s car accidents are a direct result of cellphone usage. According to USA Today, “In early 2013, the nation’s four biggest cellphone companies launched their first joint advertising campaign against texting while driving. Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile united behind AT&T’s “It Can Wait” advertising campaign, warning their customers against the misuse of their own devices.”
Surprisingly, majority of cellphone related accidents occur while the distracted driver is talking. Texting accounts for only 5% of cellphone-related crashes.
With growing research showing that handsfree technology does little to curb cellphone-related accidents, the Government wants to take it one step further to protect citizens.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who was at the forefront of the bill, stated, “Many Americans aren’t smart enough to protect themselves, which is why they elect leaders like myself. It should be a no-brainer — put the phone down for 10 secs, but of course we all see the drivers swerving all over the road while trying to text a funny cat video to their friends. While I love technology as much as the next person, the car is the last place we need it. If is our responsibility to do more to prevent more of the tens of thousands of automobile-related deaths each year. A small inconvenience could go a long way to saving lives.”
The proposed software would lock out all function except for making 911 emergency calls. Upon opening the phone, users would be given a prompt saying “function has been disabled while driving.”
Apple is already working on this technology, and filed a patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office on a technology which they called “Driver handheld computing device lock-out.”
The bill is expected to easily pass the Senate and the House.