The increase of popularity of mobile phones, smartphones and other mobile computing devices, have resulted in an increase of the use of this technology by drivers as they are driving. In an attempt to stop this bad habit from becoming any more serious and potentially more dangerous, many different software and gadget companies have been working hard to address the issue. While warning lights on our dashboards to warn us of our unfastened seatbelts may work for that purpose, it seems that stopping our desire to communicate on the move may be a more challenging task.
Despite laws imposed across the globe banning the use of mobile devices while driving, the accident rate caused by such incidents has not reduced at all. It is suspected that this is simply because users are not paying attention to the law due to the difficulty in enforcing it. Instead, drivers are continuing to text on the move, perhaps due, in part, to a lack of clarity as to what actions are actually forbidden. After all, research is only recently starting to return results regarding what constitutes dangerous usage of a mobile device while driving. Would a handsfree chat reduce your concentration? What about programming the satellite navigation system on your? Does dictating a text message distract you as you consider how best to phrase your message?
Many phone applications can now be downloaded via mobile data plans that aim to prevent the use of your phone while driving, but all of them have faced the same issue of struggling to ascertain when the user is actually driving a car. They will also only work on some phones, making the widespread adoption of the new technology difficult. These apps have all also been developed by relatively small companies, lacking the persuasive power that the federal government and mobile broadband providers could offer.
One such example of a proposed application designed to prevent phone use while driving was created by Drive Safely Corp. Smartphones featuring a built in GPS chip can identify when the device in question is moving at a speed of more than 15 miles per hour. If someone attempts to use the phone at this point they will be required to enter a series of letters and number, based on what is displayed on the phone. The logic being that a driver would be unable to complete this task, where a passenger in the car would not struggle. Of course, there is no guarantee that drivers wouldn’t try, potentially making the situation even more dangerous!
Other apps could hold incoming text messages until you stop moving, or simply block your ability to create a new message until the device is stationary once again. At present these applications can be downloaded via mobile, but they tend to be more expensive than regular apps. And as it is impossible for many to distinguish between driving a car and travelling on a train, most offer an override system that could be used by the driver in question anyway.
With these issues faced by the small start-up companies creating these safety-focused applications, it seems unlikely that we will face a solution to the problem of mobile use while driving in the near future.