Some unlikely help is coming in the war against distracted driving – from the cell phone companies themselves. According to The New York Times, cellular carriers are developing technology aimed at “curbing dangerous distractions by temporarily interrupting service, short-circuiting the temptation for people to respond to the chime of their phones.”
Willpower can only get us so far, it seems. According to the Times article, for psychological and physiological reasons it is often difficult to resist the ping of an incoming text or call. “Physiologically, researchers say, the lure of mobile devices has addictive properties, in that people feel an adrenaline burst when a call or text comes in and get a rush when they answer.”
To combat this, T-Mobile announced a service called DriveSmart, which, for $4.99 a month, automatically disables rings and alerts and sends calls to voice mail when the phone is in a moving car. It works by detecting when the phone is switching among cell towers. It then activates the phone’s GPS receiver to try to verify that the phone is moving quickly. After about 10 seconds of motion it will automatically send a call to voice mail or a text to the inbox without notifying the driver of its presence. (It’s working on technology that will allow it to determine whether the speeding phone belongs to the passenger or driver.)
Sprint Nextel and AT&T are also reportedly exploring the technology, while Verizon Wireless has been cooperating with small companies to offer a similar service on its network.
Think your will power is good enough to resist the lure of the ping? Or will you be an early adopter of the helpful cell service interrupters? Weigh in here.