As I was passing a couple of wrecks on the 101 yesterday I had an idea about how to prevent texting and driving.
In sum, the sender of a text should be notified that the recipient is driving, and various options should come into effect as a result. Mobile device operating systems should have some good defaults here, e.g.:
- By default it prompts you if you try to send to someone who’s driving
- By default it scolds you again if you say yes, you want to text a driver
- You should be able to disable the ability to send texts to drivers at the parental level
- Similarly, you should be able to disable the ability to RECEIVE texts while driving
The technical implementation
Ok, fine, but how do we do that?
Well, for Apple, they’ve just introduced the new M7 chip. That system knows when you’re walking vs. driving vs…whatever. So it’s easy to know you’re in a car.
But what if you’re the passenger?
I have an idea for that. If the M7 says you’re both in a moving car and your phone is connected to your car’s bluetooth, then you’re driving. The odds that you’re in your own car but someone else is driving are fairly low–or at least low enough for the feature to be useful.
So, within each bluetooth setup for a car (easy to identify that), you get prompted:
Is this your car?
Or maybe even just a toggle for “This is my car.”. Whatever.
The key is gathering evidence that it’s your car you’re in (so it can then assume that you’re driving), so any local connection like bluetooth could work for this. Car manufacturers could even have a separate bluetooth transmitter for this purpose, but the standard bluetooth connection that gives access to contacts and nav (soon hopefully) would be the best place for it.
However it’s implemented you can then put policy in place for anytime that those two things are true (you’re both moving at car speed and connected to your car’s bluetooth). This collapses into the
isDriving attribute for a given person.
- If Chris is driving, don’t receive texts unless they are marked as an emergency (but aren’t those even more likely to cause a loss of attention to the road?).
- If you text someone who is driving it prompts you convert to a phone call instead.
- If you try to text someone who is driving it simply greys out the option within your interface so it’s not an option.
- Alternatively to #3, it can have a “text anyway” option that requires enablement through policy and can be disabled through Parental Controls.