The dangers of texting while driving are now well known. Studies have shown that the level of impairment and distraction for a driver while texting is similar to that of an intoxicated driver. Reaction times are much too slow and we have seen countless car accidents caused by texting drivers. Regulators have struggled to create laws that act as an effective deterrent, although efforts in some states have had noticeable benefits.
Now, a physicist has found a way to stop the behavior at the source – the phone. Researchers have detected a pattern in finger movements for text messages being typed while driving. People apparently have more erratic typing motions while driving, much like someone stumbling while they walk.
Researchers have created an equation that predicts whether or not a phone user is driving that is 99 percent accurate. The equation would theoretically allow software developers to create an application that locks the phone or shuts it down if a user is driving and texting.
This is an exciting safety innovation and would help act as a deterrent to the dangerous behavior without necessary legal reform in every state. The physicist who developed the equation says that he thought of the idea when contemplating his daughter getting behind the wheel. He said that an application could help prevent accidents and help parents enforce safe driving habits for their teens.
It could also have applications in law enforcement, similar to the use of ignition interlocks for repeat DUI offenders. “Eventually you might see something like this required on the phones of distracted drivers who’ve been involved in accidents,” he said.