Despite laws banning the use of new and old cell phones while operating a motor vehicle, drivers continue to make use of the cellular device from behind the wheel and accidents caused by distracted driving continue to take place. Now lawmakers and engineers are contemplating turning to technology with a cell phone application that can tell whether its user is driving a motor vehicle or not and respond accordingly.
Engineers at Rutgers and their colleagues at the Stevens Institute of Technology have come up with a new smartphone application that can determine whether the user of a cell phone is behind the wheel or in the passenger seat of a car. If they are in the passenger seat, the user can operate the cell phone with no limitations. If they are in the driver’s seat however, the app can take a number of steps to ensure less distraction to the driver. This includes silent forwarding of incoming texts and calls to message boxes for later retrieval, and making an automatic response to texters or callers informing them that the target of the call is currently driving and will respond at a later point. When it comes to outgoing communication, the app could make it easier to make certain calls while disabling texting altogether.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving caused approximately 3000 fatal traffic accidents across the United States during 2011.