Your car could soon be turned into a roaming blackhole for phone reception, with the Federal Government urging technology companies to find ways to stop motorists using their phones while driving.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport & Regional Development Michael McCormack is pushing the initiative, revealing he has written to leading technology companies about the possibility of developing technology that could block calls and messages if it detects the vehicle is in motion.
“We should be investigating this technology,” said McCormack.
“I’ve recently written to leading telecommunication and information technology companies, seeking their views on the potential for their sectors to contribute to the elimination of road crash deaths and serious injuries, and advice on what more can be done to reduce sources of driver distraction.”
The technology is by no means out of the realm of possibility.
In 2017, Nissan Great Britain developed a prototype of its ‘Signal Shield’ – a built-in box that lies in the armrest of a vehicle and blocks cellular reception.
Motorists must willingly place their phones into the armrest – which is lined with wire mesh to shield the device from electromagnetic fields – for it to work.
“Some drivers are immune to the activity of their smartphone, but for those who struggle to ignore the beeps and pings, this concept provides a simple solution in this very connected world we live in,” said Nissan Motor GB managing director, Alex Smith.
Apple has made tracks in the space, recently introducing a ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ feature for iPhones.
The feature automatically turns on when the iPhone connects to the car’s Bluetooth or when the device senses driving motion.
Once activated, the iPhone stays silent and the screen remains dark for all notifications, except for emergency alerts, timers and alarms.
If you receive a message while ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ is activated, an automatic reply will be sent on your behalf to advise that you are driving.
Cycling membership organisation Bicycle Network is a strong advocate for “mobile phone intervention technology”, and has called for the technology to be made mandatory.
“As bike riders we can see into cars and what drivers are up to. Every day we despair when we see drivers texting or just mucking around,” said Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards.
“It's clear that current policing isn't curbing behaviour. It’s unfair to put the burden on the police. We need to take phone use out of the hands of drivers.”