It seems using cellphones and driving at the same time really don’t mix, at least in terms of safely making it to your destination. But some people (and here I cast an eye over my bunch of cellphone-addicted younger friends) really don’t get that message, no matter how illegal cellphone use while driving gets. And that’s what researchers at the University of Utah had in mind when they were designing this prototype Key2SafeDriving lock-down system.
It’s very simple: When you extend the car key from the fob, the key alerts the cellphone wirelessly and disables it from making outgoing calls or text messages. That’s simple and undeniably effective. It goes even further to discourage risky behavior by diverting all incoming calls to an automated message along the lines of “Busy driving, will call you back,” and even texts get a similar autoreply. If you’ve got a handsfree unit connected, however, then incoming calls work as they should.
It’s very much in the research phase still, but the team thinks it could be on the market for as little as $50 next year.
But I spot one fatal flaw: if this goes on sale, undoubtedly aimed at parents who prefer to control their kids cellphone driving habits, it’ll rely on either special cellphones or software apps loaded onto the target phone. And that assumes the kids in question don’t just go off and get a cheap pay-as-you-go “backup” phone that Mom and Dad don’t know about. They’re kids, remember?