Distracted driving has been a plague on the automotive world ever since the invention of the cellphone, and a number of states have enacted legislation to protect the public. New advancements in driving-related technology have worked to curb the practice, but so far only by investigating and prosecuting offenders rather than preventing it.
One controversial new weapon in this fight is called the textalyzer, whose name comes from the well-known breathalyzer. This device, while supposedly not scanning the driver’s phone for actual content, will tell the authorities if the phone had been in use at the time of the accident. Privacy experts are obviously concerned about a proprietary device that can infiltrate a phone, despite assurances that no content will be accessed by law enforcement.
Now, ministers in the UK are calling for software that will actually prevent the use of cell phones while driving, according to a report from The Guardian. A new initiative will ask cell phone providers to create a “drive mode” similar to the existing “airplane mode” that currently limits a phone’s functionality while enabled. Another proposed option would be to block the phone altogether once its GPS indicates it has reached a certain speed.
There are already apps that offer this kind of protection, and they’ve become popular with parents of teenaged drivers. Unfortunately, disabling a young person’s phone if the device is travelling at a predetermined speed also means being unable to text or call for help if the owner is a passenger in danger. But unlike the option of installing an app, this call is for phones to come pre-installed with a non-optional functionality for the good of the public.