Lawmakers Consider Disabling Cell Phones in Cars

Federal regulators are considering mandating all cars add technology that would disable cell phone use in moving vehicles, in an effort to stem the bevy of handset-related vehicle crashes.

Among the scenarios being discussed, the most likely solution involves installing software in cars that would shut off specific phone features when certain speeds are reached. But according to experts, the technology wouldn’t be difficult for owners to work around the software and would likely be voluntary.

Other options, such as cell phone jammers, are illegal, and not likely to be used.

“I think you’re going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones,” said Ray LaHood, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. “I think the technology is there.”

He added that cell phone distractions while driving resulted in 5,500 known deaths and 500,000 injuries in 2009 — high enough for the government to consider intervening.

Government reports show that drunk and distracted driving result in similar outcomes, but social attitudes are vastly different. The only long-term solution, these people say, is a change in people’s attitudes.

To reinforce this, the U.S. Department of Transportation also plans to launch an ad campaign, called “Face of Distracted Driving,” which features videos of distracted driving victims.

Last year, big automakers said they would support a ban on text messaging and using phones while driving. A week later, President Obama had also signed an executive order banning federal employees from text messaging while driving when on official business.

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