Driv­ing: Should phones auto-dis­able

Lesotho Times - - Motlo -

LON­DON — The rel­a­tives of four peo­ple killed by a truck driver us­ing his cell­phone at the wheel have called on Ap­ple to in­tro­duce a dis­abling func­tion.

In 2008 Ap­ple filed an ap­pli­ca­tion to patent a ‘lock-out’ fea­ture which would dis­able a phone when be­ing used by a driver, but has never in­tro­duced it.

Patent doc­u­ments re­veal that the de­vice would be able to de­ter­mine if the car was mov­ing us­ing GPS and see who was us­ing the phone by ac­ti­vat­ing its cam­era. But de­spite the patent be­ing granted in 2014, Ap­ple has not added the po­ten­tially life-sav­ing fea­ture to its prod­ucts.

Tracy Houghton, 45, from Dun­sta­ble, Bed­ford­shire, was killed along­side her sons Josh, 11, and Ethan, 13, and step­daugh­ter Aimee Gold­smith, 11, when Pol­ish driver To­masz Kro­ker, 30, ploughed into a queue of traf­fic on the A34 in Berk­shire while dis­tracted by his phone in Au­gust 2016.

Now their rel­a­tives have asked Ap­ple for a meet­ing to urge the com­pany to in­tro­duce the tech­nol­ogy in Britain.

Doug Houghton, who lost sons Josh and Ethan, said: “If that tech­nol­ogy ex­ists it should be com­pul­sory. There is an epi­demic of peo­ple us­ing their phone at the wheel. And what do you do with epi­demics? You cure them.”

Mark Gold­smith, Ms Houghton’s part­ner and Aimee’s fa­ther, said: “It should be im­pos­si­ble to use your phone in the driv­ing seat of a car.

“It would be fan­tas­tic if that fea­ture was in­cluded.”

How it works The tech­nol­ogy con­tains a ‘mo­tion anal­yser’ which can de­tect the speed at which the car is mov­ing. A ‘scenery anal­yser’ checks if the phone was be­ing used in a safe lo­ca­tion or in the driv­ing seat.

The de­vice would look out for things such as dis­tance from the phone to wheel and whether other peo­ple were in the car.

Patent doc­u­ments state: “Tex­ting while driv­ing has be­come a ma­jor con­cern of par- ents, law en­force­ment and the gen­eral pub­lic.”

They add that the func­tion could be used with­out mak­ing any mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the car.

The de­vel­op­ment was also backed by Paul Carvin, 59, from Mor­peth, Northum­ber­land, whose wife Zoe, 42, died when she was crushed while wait­ing in a queue of traf­fic. Fa­ther-oftwo Mr Carvin said car­mak­ers and cell­phone com­pa­nies had a duty to stop phones be­ing used by driv­ers.

He added: “Some peo­ple will re­spond to ed­u­ca­tion and some peo­ple will re­spond if there is a harsh pun­ish­ment. Some peo­ple won’t re­spond to any of that.

“This is the equiv­a­lent of tak­ing a phone away, like say­ing to chil­dren: ‘You don’t use it at meal­times’ — un­til even­tu­ally they don’t do it any more.”

Safety char­ity Brake said: ‘With so many peo­ple flout­ing cur­rent laws, tech­nol­ogy that would make this im­pos­si­ble could be life-sav­ing.”

Ap­ple would not re­veal why it had not pushed ahead with de­vel­op­ment of the tech­nol­ogy. A spokesman said: “We are strongly com­mit­ted to help­ing users stay safe.”

— Daily Mail.

Ap­ple has patented tech­nol­ogy that would dis­able a cell­phone if it was used by a driver while driv­ing, but has never used it.

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