Plan to Disable Cell Phones in Cars Under Consideration

On the heels of the launch of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s online video series, “Faces of Distracted Driving,” the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is looking into technology to disable c<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Accident-Due-Caused-by-Cell-Phone-Texting-Use-Injuries-Lawyer-Lawsuit-Attorney">ell phone operations in automobiles.

The “Faces of Distracted Driving” series explores the tragic consequences of texting and cell phone use while driving. The series features people from across the country who have been injured or lost loved ones in distracted driving crashes.

We recently wrote that, in 2009, the DOT reported that nearly 5,500 people died and half a million were injured in accidents involving a distracted driver. The technology consideration is in response to the increasing incidence of injury and death linked to so-called distracted driving. “I think the technology is there,” said Secretary LaHood, quoted Discovery News. “And I think you’re going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones,” he added.

“Faces of Distracted Driving” is part of Secretary LaHood’s effort to raise public awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and to support victims. In January, Secretary LaHood joined anti-distracted driving advocate Jennifer Smith to announce the creation of FocusDriven, the first national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending distracted driving. Discovery News noted that the DOT will be adding a new video to its online library every couple of weeks.

“These videos are dramatic evidence that the lives lost to America’s distracted driving epidemic aren’t statistics. They’re children, parents, neighbors, and friends,” said Secretary LaHood. “These people have courageously come forward to share their tragic stories in order to warn others against making the dangerous decision to talk or text behind the wheel.” The video can be accessed at http://www.distraction.gov/faces/

In addition to the 5,500 reported deaths due to distracted driving in 2009, Secretary LaHood pointed out that 500,000 people were injured, an underestimation according to Paul Atchley, a University of Kansas scientist and expert on distracted driving, said Discovery News. According to Atchley, the Secretary’s data includes actual known distracted driving injuries and deaths, suspected deaths and injuries are not included and are suspected to be significantly higher, and growing, reported Discovery News.

Federally, no law prohibits cell phone use when driving, although some states mandate hands-free cell phone use or ban texting when driving, noted Discovery News.

LaHood intends on fighting “technology with technology,” wrote Discovery News, noting that hardware—cell phone jammers, for instance—are illegal and the FCC is not expected to approve such equipment. Software—companies including Zoomsafter, tXtBlocker, and iZup offer products—is under consideration. The technology is voluntary and works on cell phone or vehicle speed, phone or Bluetooth transmission, and cell phone tower measurement, said Discovery News. When certain limits are detected, the phone is disabled.

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