back to article Hey techbros, make an airplane mode but for driving for your apps – US traffic watchdog

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed voluntary guidelines [PDF] designed to reduce driver distraction by mobile devices in vehicles. According to the NHTSA, about 10 per cent of the 35,092 traffic fatalities in 2015 – 3,477 people – involved one or more distracted drivers. This represents an 8.8 …

  1. Martin-73 Silver badge

    Texting while driving banned in 46 states

    Where the hell are the insane pits of depravity where it's not??? So I can avoid them. Forever

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: Texting while driving banned in 46 states

      Does this help?

      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d8/Cell_phone_use.gif

    2. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: Texting while driving banned in 46 states

      I think you'll find the remaining 14 states, along with DC and assorted offshore US possessions, have banned the use of hand-held phones by drivers.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Texting while driving banned in 46 states

        I think you'll find the remaining 14 states, along with DC and assorted offshore US possessions, have banned the use of hand-held phones by drivers.

        Oh no they haven't. I can name three without even having to look it up, that haven't.

        Or did you forget the sarcasm tag?

      2. Colin Millar

        Re: Texting while driving banned in 46 states

        "I think you'll find the remaining 14 states ....."

        Did the US just take over Canada? Oh well - it will save them from building the norther wall.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Texting while driving banned in 46 states

      You do not need to ask. You can easily guess.

      As Chris Rea sang on the subject:

      She says, "That mess, it don't get no better

      There's gonna come a day

      Someone's gonna get killed out there"

      And I turn to her and say, "Texas"

      She says, "What?"

      I said, "Texas"

      She says, "What?"

      They got big long roads out there

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Texting while driving banned in 46 states

      We need the distracted driving laws enforced. I'm all for NO PHONE while driving. Pull the hell over if you need to use the phone.

      You DO NOT have the right to endanger my life. Distracted phone driving has become worse than DWI where I live.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Texting while driving banned in 46 states

        Even worse in my case. I'm a permanent pedestrian now, no crash resistant box here. The number of near runovers here is up 400%. Every damn one on a cellphone.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Texting while driving banned in 46 states

          And similarly, the number of pedestrians wandering blindly into the road without looking up from their phones has skyrocketed, in concert with rising pedestrian deaths, many of which seem to be the result of distracted walking.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Texting while driving banned in 46 states

        "I'm all for NO PHONE while driving. Pull the hell over if you need to use the phone."

        Various studies have showed that talking to a passenger is as distracting as talking on a hands free phone. Some studies rate it as more distracting to talk to a passenger. BAN PASSENGERS!!!

    5. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Texting while driving banned in 46 states

      Just because it's "banned" doesn't mean the average idiot obeys the law now does it? Here in Oregon there is a hand-held ban along with texting, etc. but on any given day, there's bunches of these fools talking and texting away. My only hope is that Darwin will enforce the law a bit... or a lot.

  2. JaitcH
    WTF?

    If Fines Can't Stop It, Can Technology Really Provide An Answer?

    Living in a city with over 4-million motorcycles, SaiGon/Ho Chi Minh City, I watch the locals not only dialing calls but even composing SMS/Text messages with their left-hand whilst their right-hand holds the right accelerator handle.

    Add to that the 1100-hundred thousand car and truck drivers who seemingly have equally ambidextrous skills, PLUS thousands of pedal cyclists who happily pedal along maintaining their social media life, it amazes me there are not even more than three traffic deaths daily.

    But the smartphone DOES have moving uses. Taxi drivers are using the Apps that provide verbal translation to communicate with their passengers - and very useful they are, too. SaiGon/HCM have street names that are predominately after people with three names and yet these masterful Apps can translate from badly spoken English to understandable Vietnamese.

    The fine for using cell handsets is USD$12 (equivalent), the usual bribe rate is USD$5, both quite high for Vietnamese wage earners, but this doesn't deter people from breaking the law.

    A better reason for cell handset jammers I have yet to envision.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: If Fines Can't Stop It, Can Technology Really Provide An Answer?

      No it cannot. Sony (Android) and Windows phones have had driving mode for ages.

      It's called app-remote on Sony and phones ask you to install if they encounter a recognized model of a Bluetooth enabled stereo and/or Mirrorlink capable stereo. If memory serves me right, Lumia does the same - it goes into drive mode if it recognizes the environment as a car. I am pretty sure you can install the app-remote app on non-Sony phones by the way.

      So at least some companies have been shipping technological solutions for 3+ years now. Unfortunately the effect has been near zero. In fact while all older Xperias from around JLo (T) onwards came with this by default, the latest one I got this year (M4) did not have it pre-installed and pre-configured.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If Fines Can't Stop It, Can Technology Really Provide An Answer?

        >driving mode

        How does it differentiate driver from passenger? Genuine question.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: If Fines Can't Stop It, Can Technology Really Provide An Answer?

          Indeed, and cannot do it on speed as impacts bus, train passengers etc.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: If Fines Can't Stop It, Can Technology Really Provide An Answer?

          >How does it differentiate driver from passenger? Genuine question.

          The report glossed over that, merely saying that 'until driver/passenger distinction systems mature, Driver mode must be activated manually'. Oh well.

          It seems most of the thrust is towards the systems already being developed by Google, Apple et al. When you connect your phone to your car, the car takes control of the UI, giving simplified controls for calls, sat-nav and audio.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: If Fines Can't Stop It, Can Technology Really Provide An Answer?

      In my city there is at least one traffic fatality every day.

  3. John H Woods Silver badge

    Missed one ...

    Surely message notifications (text and messenger) should be supressed when driving? I use Tasker to auto-answer "Sorry I'm driving. If urgent, please call me on xxx [handsfree] and I'll answer if safe to do so"

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Missed one ...

      Surely you expect too much logic, reason and responsibility from the average driver.

  4. JLV Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Stoopids

    My fave. Driving North into Seattle. Fairly heavy traffic as usual. But fluid. I'm @ 110/120 which is a tad faster than the general flow so I need to concentrate. Keep spacing. If I was tired I'd have to slow. Fun.

    Keeping pace w me last hour a 30-something solo female in a Smart, New Mex plates.

    Till my kids spot dumbo texting assiduously as she goes. Slowed right down till she was far ahead, figuring a heightened risk w her around.

  5. GrumpyKiwi

    How do you ensure that the same technology that blocks stuff from working on the drivers phone doesn't disable operations on the phones of his/her/zer passengers?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You can't limit a jammer to the driver, any more than you can limit the effect of thousands of jammers in one area to just automobiles.

      On the other hand, if you had sidewalk jammers, you might be able to have something elaborate enough to limit the effect to pedestrians.

      Of course, then there would be phone software mods to increase phone transmit power...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's why ..

    .. I flip the phone to silent when I'm in the car (and have vibrate disabled).

    I have seen too many accidents and had to avoid too many texting idiots - I have no desire to join that part of the population. I can already see drivers (many, MANY drivers) starting to swerve on the road when using the phone, which can only get worse when texting. Or looking at papers on the passenger seat or in hand.

    Where I live I'd say it's about 1 in 10 drivers that are waffling on a kept-in-the-hand phone, which offers the best proof that laws without enforcement are really utterly pointless.

    The best argument for disabling your phone is simply that you need all your attention on the road to avoid the fools that do not..

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: That's why ..

      Sony sold NFC tags for their phones - tap the phone on the tag to enable a certain profile, for example. Daftly, there wasn't a 'toggle mode'. This meant that you couldn't tap a tag to enable a silent profile and then tap the same tag again to turn the ringer back on.

  7. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    So what you do is

    if you see someone using their phone while driving, simply use your phone to take a photo for evidence and forward it to your local traffic police.

    Oh, wait...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: So what you do is

      On a more sensible note, more vehicles are coming with external cameras, either to cover the driver's ass in the case of a collision (typically on delivery vehicles who were the targets of insurance scammers), or as part of assisted driving systems. Dash-cams are popular in countries where people don't trust the police.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've got the perfect solution...

    Every vehicle should come equipped with its very own TrunkMonkey(TM) brand Driver Safety Assurance System.

    If the driver tries to use a cellphone then the TrunkMonkey(TM) climbs out of the trunk & grabs the phone away, chucks it out a window, & smacks the driver in the head before returning to the trunk.

    If the driver starts to doze off then the TrunkMonkey(TM) crawls out, grabs the driver by the back of the head, & slams their face repeatedly into the steering wheel to wake them back up again.

    If the driver is driving at an unsafe speed (speeding on a residential road, speeding on the freeway, weaving, following too close, etc) then the TrunkMonkey(TM) starts screeching, howling, & slapping the driver with pawfulls of shit until they stop driving like an arse.

    The TrunkMonkey(TM) could also double as a theft deterrent system, mauling the attempted car theif & disposing of the body afterwards.

    I've got my TrunkMonkey(TM), get yours today!

    1. Giles C

      Re: I've got the perfect solution...

      Don't involve monkeys or this can happen

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/21/at-least-20-dead-in-libya-after-row-over-rogue-monkey-sees-rival/

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    How about they tackle the ****ing ******* ***** ****s who design cars that are more like a mobile game console than a car. We have a couple of Citröen C4 Cactus obscenities as pool cars - so many functions are controlled from a touchscreen that it's not possible to do some simple things (like just adjust the temperature of the heating) without taking your eyes off the road to work out where on the zero-tactile user interface you have to jab to do it. First you have to tap the right icon to get to the heating page (if you're not already on it), and then you can tap in different parts of the screen to adjust the fan speed and temperature - there's zero chance of doing this by feel (and a quick glance) like you can in my own cars.

    Serious safety issue designed by completely clueless ****ing ****s.

    1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      French cars have always had over-complex control panels. That description of the Citroen Cactus has put me right off ever getting one. Don't they realise the stress caused when you're trying to find options in menus?

      It was bad enough in a toyota auris I drove for a couple of days. I could not for the life of me persuade the on board system to switch its audio to audio output from my iphone, which was charging through the in-car USB. I couldn't hear the satnav instructions from the iphone because of this.

  11. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Why aren't these covered under dangerous driving laws? It is fairly distracting undoing a water bottle and trying to drink out of it, trying to change radio station when it can't find the one you want, trying to read the tiny sign on the right saying "this is a high fatality road collision area", trying to pick up a dropped mars bar etc. etc.

    So yes, using your phone for messaging/phoning is banned but I think it's going too far to try to automatically work out when you're driving. You're only going to have some numpty try to override the driver lock by pretending to be a passenger and have that cause an accident instead.

  12. nilfs2
    Headmaster

    Mandatory cellphone blockers in cars

    People have shown that they cannot be trusted to not use the phone when driving, the problem is not that they put themselves in danger, is up to them if they want to get killed/injured, the real problem is that they put other people in danger because of their reckless and selfish behavior, this is one of the things where the nanny state makes sense and should step in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mandatory cellphone blockers in cars

      And that costs you

      the ability to report drunk or dangerous drivers

      the ability to report vehicles or people in distress

      access to live traffic navigation apps

      access to online navigation tools

      access to emergency alert texts

      the ability to summon police, ambulance, or fire immediately if needed

      the ability of your passenger to retrieve helpful or even safety critical information while travelling

      Additional problems left as an exercise for the alert reader...

      Furthermore, being line of sight to eight to sixteen full lanes of traffic would probably knock out cell service for ranges measured in kilometers if each car had a jammer.

      These days this would probably be regarded as an unacceptable safety risk, as well as being political suicide.

  13. genghis_uk

    Passenger vs Driver is fairly simple - start with the assumption that the connected phone belongs to the driver and enter driver mode but allow a manual override. A passenger can override without too much effort but if there is an accident and the driver's phone has had the override enabled, throw the book at them!

    There will always be edge conditions but that is what we have courts for, to determine mitigating circumstances. The responsibility should always be with the driver was they are in 'control' of the vehicle.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    " so many functions are controlled from a touchscreen that it's not possible to do some simple things (like just adjust the temperature of the heating) without taking your eyes off the road to work out where on the zero-tactile user interface you have to jab to do it."

    Simple, elegant solution.

    Ban touchscreens for any function that can be reasonably accomplished without a screen. That probably makes it navigation / rearview camera only.

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