ComSonics, a Virginia-based company that provides calibration and repair services for speed-enforcement equipment, is close to production of a new radar device that can help police detect texting drivers.
As the Virginian-Pilot reports, the device uses technology similar to that used by cable repairmen searching for damaged cable. According to Malcolm McIntyre of ComSonics, it is able to distinguish between text message, phone call and data transfer frequencies.
That means, at least in theory, that a driver making a phone call or receiving an email wouldn’t be busted for texting while driving. In Virginia and other states where texting and driving is not permitted but talking on the phone and driving is, the new radar gun would allow police to distinguish between legal and illegal digital device use.
McIntyre admitted, however, that there are legislative hurdles and privacy concerns to overcome before production begins. Also unresolved are questions such as whether the technology will be able to distinguish between a texting driver and a texting passenger, how it would know the difference between traditional texts and texts sent via voice-to-text applications and the distance at which it is effective.
Device May Help Prevent Teen Texting and Driving
McIntyre, who serves as calibration services manager at ComSonics, told WHSV-Harrisonburg that texting-and-driving is a major concern for teenage drivers.
“Being the father of six children total … it’s very concerning to me the activities they’re doing while they’re learning to drive and being young drivers. Their attention should be totally focused on the road,” he said.
In both Virginia and Colorado, lawmakers have banned all cell phone use for novice drivers (those younger than 18) in an attempt to reduce the number of cell-phone-related crashes.
A study published last year by researchers at Cohen Children’s Medical Center found that more teenagers die each year from texting-related crashes than die from drunk driving crashes, reports the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). The researchers estimated that nationwide 3,000 teen deaths and 300,000 teen injuries result from texting while driving.
Ariel Svransky, director of public health at ACSH, said that “This is clearly a huge public health issue and steps must be taken to reduce incidences of texting and driving. And even though the report is pointing to teens, plenty of adults text while driving as well.”
According to Distraction.Gov an estimated 3,328 Americans were killed and 421,000 were injured in distracted driving crashes during 2012. Drivers under 20 had the largest proportion of drivers distracted in fatal crashes.
Texting and driving is illegal in Colorado for all drivers and can result in automobile accident liability.
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