Sunday, April 18, 2021

Phone innovations withheld from public

Trusting drivers to abstain from using their phones is as naive as leaving a bowl of candy out for trick-or-treaters with a note that reads: “Take one.”

Since policing our own phone habits is ineffective, should the companies making our cellphones be responsible for our safety? If only there was a way for cellphone companies to restrict drivers to certain features.

Well, actually, there is.

In 2008, Apple filed a patent for technology that would use sensors to determine if a phone was in motion and in use by a driver, according to The New York Times. The software would then be able to prevent the use of certain functions, such as texting.

“Texting while driving has become so widespread that it is doubtful that law enforcement will have any significant effect on stopping the practice,” Apple said in the patent.

It’s unknown if Apple has fully developed the technology. Targeting the driver’s phone without accidentally affecting the phones of passengers could be difficult.

Snapchat currently has a similar feature which displays “Do NOT Snap and Drive” on users’ screens when the application detects motion. This warning is a great baby step, but how many users actually take it into account?

Some of my friends post Snapchats while driving on a daily basis. It seems harmless, but it’s really quite selfish. Using your phone while driving is only going to increase your chances of causing a car accident.

Our romance with our devices is playing its role in the rise of traffic deaths, which were declining for decades until recently.

Traffic deaths in the U.S. have increased 18 percent over the past two years, according to a report from the National Safety Council. They estimated that more than 19,000 people were killed in the first half of 2016.

The NSC stated that our improved economy as well as lowered gas prices have resulted in more traveling, therefore, more accidents.

“You just get a sense that distraction is playing a part and is a compounding factor,” Safety Division Administrator at the Oregon Department of Transportation Troy Costales said in response to rising traffic fatalities.

New York state prohibits drivers from using portable electronic devices. However, as we know, laws alone aren’t always enough to deter people from breaking them.

Since many of us have failed to curb our addictive habits with our devices, cell phone companies need to step in. Those of you who already leave your phone untouched while driving, will be virtually unaffected.

One solution to this problem that’s still being perfected is driverless cars. My lack of faith in my peers to not drive drunkenly or while texting leads me to believe it’s the best alternative. Similar to driverless cars, cell phone restrictions would require people to give up control.

Are we as a society willing to submit to new technology and hand over some freedom if it means saving countless lives? Or will we stubbornly let our devices continue to have custody of our well-being?

Email Steve Levy at

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