In-car Cellphone Stoppers Still Need Work

Technology created to prevent phone use while driving has been hanging around for years, but apparently, there are still quite a few issues to be worked out before it's completely viable. A couple of products in particular -- which are generally designed to disable a driver's cellphone in order to prevent calling and texting while switching lanes -- have been both lauded and criticized of late. Dallas-based WQN and Canada's Aegie Mobility have each concocted a solution that relies on GPS data in order to effectively disable moving cellphones. In essence, the GPS information feeds speed readings into a software application, and if the handset (and thus, the owner) is traveling at "driving speeds," the associated cellphone will be temporarily incapacitated.

Unfortunately, GPS data cannot differentiate between the driver and the passenger, so these so-called solutions could unfairly leave the person riding shotgun sans the ability to communicate to the outside world. Parry Aftab, the executive director of, has suggested that the best resolution may be the simplest option available: education. She concluded that parents may be better off "taking away a child's cellphone if it is used improperly," though we get the idea that alternative may be easier said than done.

Of course, the newfangled systems do have their merits. For instance, WQN's surveillance service can also monitor a person's whereabouts and notify guardians by text message if their child meanders outside of a designated perimeter. Additionally, it can render a phone useless at school (to prevent cheating, we're told) by simply understanding the coordinates of one's educational institution. Non-GPS alternatives, such as a University of Utah derived prototype key fob, communicated with cellphones via Bluetooth; when the key is flipped open before it's slid into the ignition, it automatically emits a signal that instructs the phone to send out an "I'm driving" message to all who call or text during the duration of the drive.

The jury's still out as to whether these solutions will actually curb the use of cellphones while driving, but it seems clear that manufacturers have quite aways to go before they're ready to take on the today's most determined mobile addicts.