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NHTSA, DOT want cars to disable your phone

Posting in Science

If polite warnings do not succeed, then vehicles should enforce no-texting policies, according to U.S. vehicle safety regulators.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) outlined plans at the Telematics Detroit 2013 conference this week to stop in-car distractions from putting the general public at risk.

Motorists who refuse to stop texting on the road could find themselves penalized through what the agencies call an "ultimate solution," -- technology which identifies drivers distracted by their phone and automatically blocks devices as a result.

The NHTSA's Nathaniel Beuse says that as drivers ignore safety guidelines, mobiles should be paired with the "nanny system" to force compliance. One solution is to connect the phone to the vehicle, which would act as a gatekeeper to prevent texting, video playback and social media use. However, this would require every driver to comply with the demand and is not technically easy to accomplish.

Another proposal outlined by Beuse is a type of sensor, similar to seatbelt reminders, which detects smartphone use and irritates a driver into stopping. This could be integrated within the vehicle or gadget itself.

Both proposals state that audio and visual function will be limited to two seconds, and only six screen-touches in any 12-second period is permitted.

Technologically, these measures are likely to disrupt vehicles that use smartphones for interactive dashboards, and it is unlikely drivers will accept these limitations without a fight.

Read More: Slash Gear

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Image credit: Flickr

— By on June 6, 2013, 10:59 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure