Technology in automobiles would soon disable cell phones if the U.S. Department of Transportation was successful in this step to prevent distracted driving.
"I think the technology is there. And I think you're going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones," Discovery News quoted Raymond LaHood, the Secretary of Transportation, as saying.
He said that distracted driving accounted for roughly 5,500 deaths and about half a million injuries last year.
Right now, there are no federal laws to prevent drivers from using cell phones while driving, though a number of states have enacted such legislation.
LaHood, however, doesn't think the laws are a big enough deterrent.
He indicated that jamming equipment would not be used, but instead the Department was considering software solutions, which automatically disable certain phone features when it is determined that they are in a moving vehicle.
"That won't work. Most of these services are voluntary. It is not difficult for users to either not activate them, or to work around them," said Atchley, a scientist at the University of Kansas who studies distracted driving.
The real answer to the problem is a change in people's attitudes. The research on drunk driving and distracted driving is quite similar, but the reactions of people to both are far different, he said.