In April, Apple announced that it will release its iOS-powered in-car system, CarPlay, later this year. CarPlay would reduce distracted driving by allowing drivers to use their iPhone without actually touching or looking at their phone. Instead, they could access their phone using a voice control or a car’s touchscreen or display.
But Apple’s CarPlay could potentially minimize distracted driving even further, according to Appleinsider.com. In fact, an Apple patent document that recently surfaced reveals that Apple has been intentionally working on in-car technology designed to prevent distracted driving for years.
According to the patent document, the in-car technology would be able to determine whether an iPhone user is driving, then turn off distracting phone functions. On-board sensors would detect when a user is driving while an in-car technology would transmit blocking signals to an iPhone. The signals would prevent the phone from receiving and sending texts and from operating other phone functions.
While it’s not clear if Apple will include the feature on CarPlay or even in a future version, the fact that the company is working on an in-car technology that combats distracted driving is promising, especially at a time when distracted driving is increasing enough to be considered as dangerous as drunk driving.
At the least, such a device would allow parents to monitor their teens’ driving behavior. In the same way they can use an interlock to make sure their teens aren’t drinking and driving, parents could use in-car distracted driving technology to make sure their teens aren’t using their smartphone while driving. At the most, such a device could lead to legislation requiring distracted driving offenders to install a phone-use monitoring device in the same way some drunk drivers are required to install an interlock. Eventually, all cars could be equipped with technology designed to disable phone functions that distract drivers.
While there are certainly some security flaws (what if you miss an emergency phone call or text?), we hope to see Apple or other companies go further with in-car phone-use detection technology development. Too many lives were lost to drunk driving before we were able to create the technology needed to save lives. With the technological advances we have today, the same advances that increased distracted driving, we could stop this dangerous driving behavior before it reaches the magnitude that drunk driving has.