Cellphone use is responsible for a quarter of crashes in the
U.S. It’s time to act and it will require a technical solution, according to Charles
Pless and Barry Pless, a father-and-son duo of doctors, in their editorial in the British Medical Journal this week.
Possible interventions, they write, include education and
legislation, but the evidence from two decades of studies with either are
inconsistent. “Part of the responsibility lies with the law makers to make sure
the penalties are severe,” Montreal-based Barry Pless tells The Globe and Mail.
But if the chances of getting caught are low and the penalty isn’t significant,
“then who cares? Then you’ll keep on.”
The paradox seems inevitable, they write: the most promising
solution to distracted driving caused by cellphones may well be more technology.
Some of their examples of gadgetry that nudges people
towards desirable behaviors include:
- Software that prevents texting while driving set as a
- Convenient mobile phone pull-out areas with free wifi
- Automatic messages informing callers that the recipient is
- A sensor such as a signal jamming key that prevents cellphone
reception when the ignition is engaged. This is available through Key2SafeDriving.
- Aegis Mobility uses software to detect when a cellphone is
in a moving car. Then all non-emergency outbound calls are blocked, inbound
calls are routed to voicemail, and inbound text messages are stored. Their apps
include FleetSafer and TeenSafer.
There will, of course, need to be a way to block phone use by
drivers while still allowing passengers to use their phones.
Until nudging works fully, they write, regulatory bodies
must be instructed to incorporate the best available technological preventive
measures into all new cellphones and cars.
[BMJ via Popular Science]
Image: Paul Sableman via Flickr
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com