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Teenage drivers blocked from texting

12 January 2009

Reckless teenagers who use their mobile phones to send texts while driving could soon find Big Brother, or rather Big Parent, breathing down their necks.

A new service called Textecution uses a phone's in-built GPS system to detect how fast the handset is travelling. If the phone is moving quicker than 10mph, its messaging capability is immediately shut down. When the phone comes to a stop, for example at traffic lights or when parked, the driver is allowed to send texts again.

Textecution is one of several innovations resulting from growing concerns about drivers concentrating on their phones instead of on the road.

A report by the RAC Foundation last year found that texting behind the wheel impaired driving skills more than being drunk or high on drugs. Despite the danger, 48% of drivers aged 18-24 admitted breaking the law by texting while driving.

Textecution is a $10 application that can be downloaded in Britain or America on Google's mobile phone platform Android. A parent registers their details with the service and installs it on their child's phone, so that its movements will then be tracked by satellite. If the child tries to text while travelling at more than 10mph, the phone screen says: "You are moving too fast to use this application."

Another solution, Key2SafeDriving, uses a key fob and is more restrictive still. The system, designed by researchers at the University of Utah, includes a device that encloses a car key. When in "driving mode", the phone cannot be used to make calls or send text messages, except for calling emergency numbers or those approved by parents. Incoming calls and texts are automatically answered with a message that says: "I am driving now. I will call you later when I arrive at the destination safely."

When the engine is turned off, the driver slides the key back into the device, which sends a "car stopped" signal to the phone, returning it to normal mode.

The above article appeared in the Observer on 11th January 2009.

RoadSafe welcomes technological developments in relation to road safety and applaudes these developments. RoadSafe has also worked closely with the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and their research on the behalf of the RAC Foundation into the dangers of texting whilst driving has been conclusive (See RoadSafe article 21/10/08).

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