DoT Evaluating Cell Phone Disabling Tech

For those who are aware of the incredible dangers of drivers texting and talking on the their phones behind the wheel, there may be hope for the future. According to Discovery, the Department of Transportation is analyzing the effects of technology that disables cell phones while in vehicles. As we all know, driving is dangerous even without the added distractions of technology. In 40% of traffic accidents, one or more drivers were using an electronic device, according to Automotive Fleet. And at least 5,500 people die and 500,000 are injured each year in collisions that were caused by distraction, according to Secretary of Transportation Raymond LaHood. While those number are shockingly high, they are low estimates, according to Paul Atchley, a researcher at the University of Kansas who studies distracted driving. The Department of Transportation only uses known deaths and injuries, while the suspected causes of injuries and deaths are not included. Atchley suspects that the numbers are much higher and are continuing to grow.


Efforts to Stop Cell Phone Use Have Been Largely Unsuccessful


It is illegal to talk on a handheld phone in some states, and illegal to text in many, such as New York. However, laws have done little to alter the behavior of drivers. The National Safety Council reports that 26% of all traffic accidents are directly caused by cell phones. In 2013, the four major cell phone companies (Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T) began a campaign to dissuade drivers from texting while driving, called “It Can Wait.” Now, three years later, it is apparent that the campaign accomplished little to nothing, as cell phone use, including texting, behind the wheel is still on the rise. Similarly, the Department of Transportation is introducing a new campaign of its own, called “Faces of Distracted Driving,” which depicts the stories of the victims of distracted driving through online videos.


Cell Phone Jammers Illegal, But Software Companies May Have Solution


While cell phone jammers are currently illegal and the Federal Communication Commission will not likely approve such devices, software companies may have a solution to the problem. Companies such as Zoomsafter, iZup, and tXtBLocker employ technology that automatically disables a cell phone when the car gets up to a certain speed. However, these technologies are self-installed, meaning that the driver has to want to change their, or their child’s, cell phone use behavior, and the technology can easily be removed as well. Secretary of Transportation Raymond LaHood believes that the populace’s attitude towards cell phone use and driving must change, and that laws and technology will not create the solution we are all waiting for. He compares it to the attitudes towards drunk driving. He says, “When we ask young drivers about drunk driving, they say that judges should throw the book at drunk drivers, but not the person texting while driving.” While attitudes towards drunk driving are unquestionably much harsher than towards people who use cell phones behind the wheel, there are still over 10,000 deaths per year that are caused by drunk drivers, which equates to roughly one third of all fatal traffic accidents.


While attitudes certainly need to change, it may take quite a bit more to create safer roads for everyone. If you have been injured by a distracted driver, contact an experienced car accident attorney at the law offices of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC today at 212-397-1000.