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back to article US may disable all in-car mobile phones

The US government may require cars to include scrambling tech that would disable mobile-phone use by drivers, and perhaps passengers. "I think it will be done," US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said on Wednesday morning, according to The Daily Caller. "I think the technology is there and I think you're going to see the …

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Stopping in car distractions

So are they going to come up with a device that disables kids in the car too?

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Happy

And what about...

putting on lipstick (not seeing that red light, with the motorcyclist patiently waiting to be hit from behind), playing the trumpet (true story!), shaving yourself (leaving suitable replies for others to make about this one)

And dogs? What about dogs! And slitherin' things?

And Owls!

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Terminator

Disabling kids? No problem ...

just place one of those super strong garbage bags with tie strings over the moggies head. Takes about 10 minutes to become effective.

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Troll

they already have

It's called 'parenting', maybe you've heard of it?

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Sure, what's the problem

2003 vintage Compaq - 25 quid after being written off by company who owned it

160G Samsung Spinpoint disk replacement - 30 quid

MSFT MCE XP remote kit - 17 quid (used to be)

Two sets of el-cheapo Maplin headphones and a splitter - 15 quid

Maplin Car laptop power supply - 30 quid (used to be when I bought it)

2h of sewing a bag with straps for fixing to a car seat out of an old kiddicare seat protector while the laptop is getting its Debian install.

Grand Total - around a 130 quid.

Voila - here is your "disable kids" device: http://foswiki.sigsegv.cx/bin/view/Net/DebianEvo110 (second pic).

Tested on a trip across whole of Europe (2 days to Buglaria, 3 days back) and multiple trips around the UK. Test subjects - an extremely unruly 8 year old and his 2 and a half year old sister. "Disables" them alright. You do not hear a squeak except when they are fighting for what to watch next.

There are also similar devices for shorter trips which can be used as a supplement or replacement to this one. They are called books. You can get them from Amazon ya know...

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Exactly !

This happened to me just the other day !

I was driving to work on the motorway, easy does it, like I always do, when a woman in a brand new BMW overtakes me doing at least 80, her face pressed to the mirror in the sunvisor, while she's applying make up !

So I see this, and deciding she's actually good looking an scantily dressed, I decide to take another peak.

So I pull up next to her, doing 80 or 90 and believe it or not, she's still at it, applying yet another coat of plaster, and she almost swerves into me !

That scared me so much I dropped my razor, and that crashed right into the sandwich I was holding in my other hand.

Now, because I had both my hands full I had the steering wheel jammed between my knees. And because I had to avoid being crashed into, my knee hit my phone-holder, knocking it out of said holder, slap bang into the cup of coffey that was sitting between my thighs.

You can imagine what happened next : hot coffey burns my crotch, my phones drowned and to add insult to injury the call I was making gets interrupted !!!

Wimmin drivers should be banned too !!!

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Rob
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Nice...

... I'll remember that when my £75 portable DVD player with USB slot dies.

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Pint

Dammit!

You owe me a keyboard...

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Paris Hilton

Umm...

I think I vaguely remember it from decades ago. It died out, I think. Bit unfashionable.

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Coat

Awww come on ....

if you shave at home instead of during the drive to work you'd need to get up 5 minutes earlier FFS

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Joke

Mmm device that disables kids...

Doesn't one require a licence to posses a shotgun?

I best include a disclaimer lest someone think of the children;

Please never, ever use a shotgun to remove the distraction of disruptive kids in your vehicle. The poster of this message in no way condones the use of violence or firearms as a method of child control.

Thinking about it, I completely withdraw my joke statement above for fear it maybe interpreted as "kill children with shotguns".

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Joke

Shave?

What's that?

Mind you, pouring the milk on the cornflakes can be a bit dicey

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Sure, what's the problem

If you have a kid that suffers from travel sickness, a book is the worst thing you can possibly give them. I know, because I was once that kid.

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@ Peter R. 1

In hindsight it seems you had a lucky escape.

A woman who takes *that* much work to look presentable is likely to be a bit of shock when it comes off.

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Happy

@Mr Cheese

"It's called 'parenting', maybe you've heard of it?"

You sire are a *proper* troll.

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Both of my kids suffer from travel sickness, so what

There is only one answer to that - bring them to chose the car. You should see the car salesman face when he asks you what does it take for him to sell the car and you point to a 2 and half year old and say "If she likes it". Especially if you tell them that she vomits in 10 minutes in 95% of all vehicles on the market.

Once you have cracked that, rest like the "disable button" is technicalities.

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Joke

it's highly effective against stupid drivers

one shotgun + some double-aught and you're good to go.

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Paris Hilton

pretty girls too

Just yesterday I politely stopped at a crosswalk at a local college, mostly to watch this pretty little thing walk by, and was rear-ended by another pickup.

Ah, distracted by the pretty little thing crossing the road, eh?

Nope.

Distracted by his pretty little girlfriend sitting close beside him in his truck. Go figure how to ban that. (wait.... burkas. Rather take the accident)

Anyway, it was a 20-30mph hit - my F150 didn't even scratch the bumper, however my hitch destroyed his. Fair exchange.

Paris is a distraction.

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Anonymous Coward

You can not practice "Parenting"

While driving the vehicle. When the kids are screaming "stop touching me" or just misbehaving in general while at speed on the motorway, "parenting" is not an option, driving is job #1.

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FAIL

But what about all the other Tech?

What about all the other tech that goes out of it's way to talk over normal cellular frequencies to pull down everything from music to gps updates? What if all I want to do is stream pandora while I'm driving somewhere, that'd get blocked too, and I hate to point out that music can actually keep people awake and focused. Also, what about all the "Call Bob" MS Sync systems and built in hands free phone setups that are supposed to save lives and be indispensable? This seems like an entire industry is going to be fighting this one back.

Not that I care about voice communications while driving, I'd much rather the wife and kids just shut-up and let me drive, let alone the 20 min of talk time I use per month on my cell phone. Still, it's nice to have those 3G downloaded maps and songs.

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Flame

Exactly

Most in-phone GPSes are useful only for motorway driving if they cannot get extra info from the cell network. Add to that the like of Google maps which need an always on network connection. Add to that traffic updates and major traffic incident alerts. Add to that the probability that the damn jammer does not turn off itself in an accident so I cannot dial 112/911/999 or whatever it is in the country I am in.

Forget that... I am not paying 600£ for an in-car GPS and 600£ for a special in-car phone/network device when I have a perfectly working GPS and a phone sitting in a cradle and mated to the car stereo via Bluetooth. It may not be as good as a properly integrated GPS unit, but it is good enough for most stuff. I drove across 9 countries this summer using a Nokia E71 as a navigation device and while I swore at it quite a few times I have to admit - it was good enough for most of the time.

They should stop that nonsense and enforce the handsfree legislation instead.

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Music....

May keep you awake but..... it is just another potentially distracting input.

I am no expert in the psychology of driving concentration but I know from personal experience that the unexpected always takes you by surprise and more often distracts you - and that is just the way life is.

If I'm controlling in upwards of a tonne of potential mobile death I want minimum distraction and I want the same for other controllers. Fitting the driver with ear defenders with built in head position, noise and 'chemical' detectors and linking them to a speed sensitive throttle cut out might be a way of supporting good driving.

Eliminating access to mobile phones is only one small, and possibly irrelevant, part. If a controller is prepared to use a mobile phone then they're probably prepared to do something else just - or more - as stupid.

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Hummm.... possible problem.

Last time I checked, disabling cell phones with jamming equipment was illegal in the US.

Add to that the fact that car companies are busy snuggling up to the "emergency assistance" companies (Such as OnStar) to put cell-based technology in vehicles.

Finally, as it's been pointed out elsewhere on here and around the world, people are still bad drivers with or without cell phones. Cell phones just make it easier.

All around I'd say it's more likely we'll see mandatory self-driving cars before we see mandatory cell jammers in cars.

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Cell phones are a red herring

Sure, cell phones do distract drivers and have led to collisions/deaths but the number is trivial when compared with other issues.

By making such a huge issue out of cell phones the authorities are ignoring far more important factors that need to be addressed. Worse still, they're clouding the issue so that the real issues are being hidden and not getting the attention they need.

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Not really

The US government can change laws so that isn't going to be a problem. I'm pretty sure I've seen research that talking on a phone impairs your driving ability even more than being drunk. Certainly I know that I am unable to talk and drive at the same time, though talking while stuck in a very slow moving traffic jam or stuck at traffic lights I think is OK.

I'm against these proposals though because technically I think it will be very difficult to jam a signal inside the car without affecting the signal outside, and the measures could do more harm than good. There is certainly no reason why a passenger shouldn't be able to make phone calls.

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Big Brother

"... disabling cell phones with jamming equipment was illegal in the US."

It's only illegal until it isn't.

Of course, this depends on what the definition of "isn't" is...

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Reply to post: Not really

"There is certainly no reason why a passenger shouldn't be able to make phone calls."

Passengers making calls are actually more distracting for the driver than if the driver was the one making the call. The study involved didn't look any closer at that part of their results, but presumed that it was because the driver attempts to infer the missing half of the conversation.

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Unhappy

@ "... disabling cell phones with jamming equipment was illegal in the US."

UNLESS you get permission from the FCC.

Whenever Obama goes mobile, one of those black SUV's - the one that looks like a slightly bald porcupine - has wide band radio jammers which only skip Federal and local Plod communications, as well as 700MHz LTE First Responders WiFi.

The system was used in Toronto this year, only the RCMP has to publicly file for authorisation. The effective range, dependent on frequency, is about 700 metres.

I guess they have never considered potential UID trigger men might think of co-opting local Plod frequencies to do their thing?

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Black Helicopters

Or ...

Using a trigger which monitors a given frequency and waits until that channel goes haywire before detonating.

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Unhappy

You may disagree if ...

... you had just been rammed from behind at a red light and gotten out the car to see the (clearly totally unrepentant) driver getting out of his car still on the phone saying 'Got to go now ... just had an accident ...'!!!

Yeah there are other things that distract, but this is such an obvious one ... and with phone penetration at over 100%, it beats kids in cars, tuning radios, animals, smoking etc. in terms of scale.

HOWEVER ... what about coming legislation in the EU to have cars call emergency services automatically in the event of an accident? I assume that will be 'unscrambled'? The problem is real, but the solution may not be quite to simple.

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or

given that that info is quite public set it up so a lack of singnal sets off the bomb

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Stop

Agreed

"I think it will be very difficult to jam a signal inside the car without affecting the signal outside, and the measures could do more harm than good"

Imagine arriving at a car accident, the first thing you would do upon reaching the scene of an accident is to ring for help, but if any cars which are running nearby can block the signal then you are stuffed.

And its not just a case of turning off all the cars involved in accident and your own car. If you are next to a main road with a constant stream of traffic going past you may never be able to get a connection to the cell tower, in fact if this this technology became mandated and you couldn't be absolutely sure that the jammer didn't effect phones outside of the vehicle then entire communities near to roads could loose mobile phone connectivity.

And bear in mind it's not just about ensure the jammer only affect phones in the vehicle at the point of sale for the entire life of the vehicle and in all conditions - e.g. a car with the windows rolled down or even worse a convertible.

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Coat

You may disagree if ...

"and with phone penetration at over 100%"

Now that WOULDbe a distraction. Painful to be seated at all I should think, never mind driving a car....

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WTF?

WTF

You might want to buy yourself an atlas mate. The US and the EU are not the same place....

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@Charles Manning (Re : trivial)

Interesting you have all the figures to hand, I didn't. My first attempt at Googling for more information used this phrase

'proportion of distracted driving accidents caused by cell phone use'

The top hit on from that search was a Washington Post article from January this year that started..

"Twenty-eight percent of traffic accidents occur when people talk on cellphones or send text messages while driving, according to a study released [Tuesday Jan 12th 2010] by the National Safety Council."

Further articles from that search show similar results.

Now this is the internet i'm looking on, granted, but pray tell - what authoritative figures do you have that leads you to pronounce the number 'trivial' ? I'm not denying there are other issues, far from it, but this vague denial seems to be more opinion - and poorly sourced opinion at that - than fact.

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Flame

Emergency Services

So this would actually be more of a safety hazard, as jamming the cellphones means that if you actually HAVE an accident, your cellphone won't be able to call 911. Other drivers noticing the accident will also be unable to report the accident. Genius!

What they should do is increase the penalties for using the cellphone without hands-free solutions, and considering "texting-while-driving" as something equivalent to a DUI. "Crashing while texting" should land no-bail jail time; I'm pretty sure that those kinds of car accidents would drop drastically.

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911

Is it not possible for the jammer to switch off if it detects a 911 call. Or more simply crash->engine off->jammer off.

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Boffin

Half-baked

To detect a 911 call, there needs to be a 911 call. For there to be a 911 call, the phone must be able to log-in with the base station. For the phone to communicate with the base station, the jammer must be off. GOTO 10. REM Repeat forever.

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WTF?

Just switch the engine off before making the call!

I'm assuming that the jammer would operate only with the ignition on. So anyone seeing your accident can pull over and switch their car off and then make a call. Even if you need to make an emergency call yourself I reckon the proportion of accidents in which you'd be able to operate a phone yet unable to switch off the engine in rather small.

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Handsfree use

There have been studies in states that have required "hands-free" devices for in-car cellphone use. The results are that using a hands-free device doesn't reduce accidents vs. handheld use. (In face, putting my own cellphone in hands-free mode is MORE distracting than just putting it up to my ear.)

I hope that this will go nowhere... as I have often reported accidents while driving. But usually there is no place to safely stop, so if my cellphone was blocked, I'd be unable to report it.

Having said that, if they could block the driver from texting, that would be great!

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FAIL

It's called

a headset.

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FAIL

Should it now?

"Disabling mobile phones in cars should not be looked at as a way of protecting you from yourself, but instead as a way of protecting you from the stupid."

If you make the transmitter powerful enough to block cell phones in their cars too, that might work.

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Excellent idea ( for a brainstorming session )

This is an excellent idea to come up in a brainstorming session. Unfortunatly ideas like this are supposed to evolve into something sane reasonable and rational, before you leave the brainstoriming session. They aren't meant to be taken outside of the brainstorming session.

Such technology would render the phones useless not matter regardless; regardless of whether the phone was held to the persons ear, or used via a hands-free kit ( which is legal ), regardless of whether the driver or a passenger is using the phone, and regardless if it's in the case of an emergency or not.

The only effect this will have is drivers being even more distracted while they watch out for cops, while they're talking on their phones.

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Not a chance

Between the phone companies, the car companies, and the cell phone addicts it will never fly.

And even if it did I'm sure a lot of the jammers would have a little accident... kind of fall down the stairs and maybe blow a fuse.

Yesterday I saw a cop making a left turn, no signals, just as the light turned red, with a cell phone stuck to his ear. Setting a great example for the rest of us there Mr. Cop.

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Joke

You seem to forget....

The police are only there to ENFORCE the law, not abide by it, there were probably some extenuating circumstances which required him to take the turn quickly on the red light and you can rest assured he probably has special training to allow him to communicate via radio / telephone whilst driving.........

See, that icon, yeh, I was joking!

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Flame

This tech will be redundant for iPhone 4 users...

Considering mine already drops half the calls I make when I'm driving, through voice dial, on my headset, with the phone wrapped in a rubber full body case. That's right, no chance in hell I'm touching the corner that makes calls drop, and all while in a 4-5 bar area. AND IT STILL DROPS MY FUCKING CALLS!!!

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Funny...

... you must get all of mine and my wife's share then, don't think we've had more than the occasional 'no service' drop...

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Coat

Distracted

People on cell phones get a lot of the brunt end of "distracted driving" talks, probably because they're very universal and obvious. However, there are many other forms of distracted driving: changing the radio station, shaving, make-up application (very bad!), eating, etc. Cutting out cell phone usage that prevents me from calling in when I see the vehicle mentioned in an "Amber Alert" (a missing child alert here in the states), or reporting a drunk driver or other road hazard, I see this as a step backward.

It all really does come down to personal responsibility. Unfortunately, "responsible" people are sometimes few and far between.

I do agree with the haunting prospect of the "average stupidity" comment. :(

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@Dazed and Confused

Simple, instead of a rule making it illegal to carry kids in the back of a pickup - simply make it compulsory

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Pint

Hello, police?

The car in front of me is swerving uncontrollably and someone could get... um, hello? Hello?

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