There's no question that distracted driving is dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during 2011, an estimated 3,000 fatal car accidents were caused by a distracted driver. Despite these alarming statistics and laws banning the use of cellphones while driving, many drivers continue to use their phones while drivers, prompting some to call for additional measures.
Researchers at Rutgers University have developed a smart phone application that may help curb cellphone usage by drivers of motor vehicles. The app works via the vehicle's sound system. Using Bluetooth technology, the app sends a signal through the vehicle's sound system to distinguish whether a driver or passenger is using their phone.
If the app detects a driver is using their cellphone there are several possible next steps. One possibility is that all calls and text messages would be silently forwarded to voicemail and message boxes. Another option is that an automatic message would alert those calling or texting that the individual is driving. In the event of an emergency, callers would have the option to override the app. A third option may be to incorporate social media, alerting connected individuals via Facebook and Twitter that the individual is driving and cannot talk or respond to text messages.
Developers of the app are hopeful that it will gain wide distribution throughout the country and in states like Louisiana. Some, however, question how effective this type of app would be as a driver would need to voluntarily download and use this type of technology. The developers argue the app can help individuals who want to stop using their mobile devices while driving yet struggle to do so.
Source: Phys.Org, "Rutgers engineers design cell phone app to reduce distracted driving," Carl Blesch, July 30, 2012