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New system puts the brake on mobile phone use while driving


July 6, 2012

A system developed by Indian researchers blocks mobile phone signals while driving (Photo:...

A system developed by Indian researchers blocks mobile phone signals while driving (Photo: Shutterstock)

By now, everyone should know that using your mobile phone while driving is dangerous. Yet, when hitting the road the chances are you’ll still see someone holding a phone to their ear while behind the wheel. Researchers in India are aiming to take away the ability for drivers to chat on the phone altogether by developing a system that blocks the a driver's mobile phone signal, while not affecting the phones of other passengers in the vehicle.

The researchers from India's Anna University of Technology in Tamilnadu point out that around 20 percent of fatal road accidents with trucks and other heavy vehicles globally involve drivers who have been operating a mobile phone at the time of the accident. It isn’t only the dialing and holding the phone, but also the conversations themselves that can take drivers’ attention off the road. This means that both in-hand and hands-free mobile phone use increase the chances of an accident occurring. They also delay reactions at intersections, cause lane drifting and result in drivers shortening the gap between their vehicle and the one in front.

To put a stop to this kind of behavior, the research team has devised a system that determines whether the person behind the wheel is using a mobile phone while the vehicle is in motion and triggers a mobile jammer that will block the phone signals. Because the jammer is only low-range, the team says other passengers in the vehicle will be able to continue using their phones.

With using a mobile phone while driving illegal in many places around the world, the team says the system could also be adapted to report traffic infringements to the police. In such cases, an RFID tag would store details of the infringement, along with the vehicle’s registration details, and transmit them to a traffic signal post where police could access the information. Alternatively, the system could provide the driver with an alert when they attempt to use a phone.

The team’s system, which is primarily targeted at drivers of heavy vehicles, is described in a paper in the International Journal of Enterprise Network Management.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick

and how long would it take, before such a system would be disabled or a workaround would be found?

cutting a wire, or wrapping the jamming antenna in some sort of faraday-cage comes to mind.

6th July, 2012 @ 03:52 am PDT

Can we have the same thing for smokers who hold their cigarette in one hand, cellphone in the other, and... haaa, no hands left to use the signals or gearstick. What a shame...

6th July, 2012 @ 06:47 am PDT

People who can't figure out how to do the workaround are probably the ones that need to be stopped the most. There is a solution out there somewhere. These drivers are like alcoholics, they cannot stop themselves and are in denial about how much it affects they're driving. If they just killed themselves it would be OK, but they don't.

The Hoff
6th July, 2012 @ 07:39 am PDT

Sounds like a really bad idea to me. We had a criminal impersonating a police officer pulling people over. Fortunately he was only extorting a bribe in lieu of a ticket. When being pulled over dialing the emergence response number (911 in the USofA) and confirming that it is indeed a law enforcement officer.

6th July, 2012 @ 07:41 am PDT

The comment agulesin made makes the point perfectly. The problem isn't cell phone usage, it's distracted drivers. What we've now done is create laws that are widely ignored and don't address real issues. I've seen people reading newspapers, eating pizzas and shaving while weaving down the road - do we need individual laws for each and every action that results in distracted driving?

With these current cell phone laws you could be driving down the road and see a house on fire, but you can't call 911 because it's technically illegal to use a phone while driving. What about using hands free devices? Will they not work - how will the technology stop headphone or bluetooth systems?

If it's so dangerous to talk on the phone and drive why do police have radios?

6th July, 2012 @ 10:08 am PDT

What an idiotic idea. It's like the paranoid idiots who made it illegal in places to be on a cell phone while pumping gas because sparks from the battery could ignite fuel in the air. WHAT? What kind of moron doesn't realize that the sparks made while starting your car are far, far more powerful than a cell phone would produce AND not sealed in completely enclosed area like cell phone batteries?

I don't like people holding phones to their ears, but what is required is laws requiring hands-free devices, not a phone ban. I've used a hands-free device for years and I can tell you beyond any doubt whatsoever that it's more dangerous for me to have a conversation with someone sitting beside me in the passenger's seat than it is to talk on a cell phone with my earpiece. While talking on a phone (WITH a hands-free device) I keep my hands on the wheel and my eyes on the road. When talking to people sitting next to me, there's always the natural polite behavior of looking over at them from time to time. It's natural and you don't even realize you're doing it most of the time.

Talking with a hands-free device is also safer than drinking or eating while driving, putting on makeup while driving, switching CD's while driving and any number of things that people do constantly.

I hate law-making-by-idiot, which is how it usually tends to be done. And most of the band-wagon cows on this planet tend to just jump on the popular wagon without actually using their grey-matter to determine if the legislation actually makes sense or not.

Dave Andrews
6th July, 2012 @ 10:12 am PDT

This is a horrid idea. The Bluetooth Company will probably sue these people because it might cause interference with the technology that they incorporate in cars and other devices. Bluetooth technology is supposed to be an alternative for drivers so that they can keep two hands on the wheel and still use their phone. The only way this technology might be useful is if it is a car option for training purposes for new drivers or if a parent is buying his or her child a new car.

6th July, 2012 @ 11:22 am PDT

Soon all personal motorized transport will be automated and things like this will be problems of the past.

6th July, 2012 @ 02:09 pm PDT

"To put a stop to this kind of behavior, the research team has devised a system that determines whether the person behind the wheel is using a mobile phone while the vehicle is in motion and triggers a mobile jammer that will block the phone signals. Because the jammer is only low-range, the team says other passengers in the vehicle will be able to continue using their phones."

This is the idiots answer. You will simply see people trying to drive from the wrong seat! The real answer is simply press charges. MAKE PEOPLE DO THE TIME. Charge them properly with the crimes they commit, reckless endangerment, unassured clear distance, etc. We do not need new laws, we need enforcement of the rules we already have. There are way too many laws now.

6th July, 2012 @ 02:53 pm PDT

We've gone overboard on stopping people from using cellphone in the car.

There are more important things to worry about.

I'd like to see more effort going into stopping drunk drivers, or sleepy drivers.

8th July, 2012 @ 09:08 am PDT

This would be one of the Gestapo's dream apps. Unfortunately for this company it is a violation of long-standing Federal Law to intentionally jam such things as cell-phones and GPS systems. (See FCC - cell phone jamming)

9th July, 2012 @ 11:12 am PDT

We should not use the cell phone at the time of driving. but it is not right to jam the signals in the car, anybody can do the call on the emergency at the time of driving so what will we do in those situations.

18th November, 2013 @ 10:57 pm PST

Hehehe People will hate this idea and we all know why "its because everyone is driving with there phones glue to their hand" . Which is so wrong. Anyhow guys your idea is "OK" but not AWSOME yet !! I Got the same thing going but more stable "wink" .

27th February, 2014 @ 01:35 pm PST
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