Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Want to Stop Texting and Driving? Why Not Jam Cell Phones?

Texting and driving

This is an idea that will get a lot of people up in arms.

With evidence mounting that texting and driving is more dangerous than drinking and driving, nearly everyone agrees that it is a huge problem that must be stopped. Sure, 18 states have made it illegal to text and drive, but the fact is many people-especially teens-continue to type away while behind the wheel. So why not take the next step, and have cars come with a device that jams cell phone signals for those in the driver seat?

I know, some of you are reading this and saying, "No way! I can stop texting and talking while driving, I don't want anyone knocking out my cell phone." Like anyone else, I hate to lose my ability to communicate, but the idea is not a crazy one. A company in Doylestown, Pennsylvania called Trinity Noblehas patented technology in its Guardian Angel jamming device. The Guardian Angel jams the cell phone signal of the person sitting in the driver seat a car going over 10 miles per hour. In other words, the drivers cell phone does not get a signal. Joe Brennan with Trinity Noble says, "we filed the patent in 2001 and the patent was actually granted in 2006 at the end of 2006 by the same government that is saying the technology is illegal."

New Tech Aims to Stop Distracted Drivers

That's right, jamming a cell phone signal is against the law. Since 1933 the FCC has steadfastly opposed any attempts to interfere with wireless signals. CTIA-The Wireless Association agrees with the FCC position and thinks jamming the cell phone signals is not a wise move. John Walls with the CTIA says, "Jamming technology is imprecise, it is very difficult to maintain, and it certainly can interrupt legitimate service in a number of different ways."

This baffles me for a number of reasons.

On one hand the federal government wants drivers to stop using, looking, and typing on their handheld devices or cell phones. On the other, the government is against a simple solution to guaranteeing people stay off their phones while behind the wheel. At the heart of the opposition to jamming is a concern that it takes away a drivers freedom to call or contact others while they are driving. Actually, if you run your phone through your car, you'd still have that freedom. And since putting the Guardian Angel or some other jamming device in a car would be voluntary, those who still want to have access to their phone would not be impacted.

What's really at issue here is whether the federal government will take a different approach to solving a growing problem. You can pass all the state laws you want and run all the shock value commercials you want, but many people will continue to text. I know they will because I have numerous friends who have told me, "I know it's illegal to text and drive, but I still do it."

So why not let parents or others who can't control themselves put jamming devices in their cars? We put in-car breathalyzer ignition switches in the cars of those convicted of drunk driving and nobody complains that we're violating the rights of those drivers? If texting and driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving, why not take a similar approach with signal jamming devices?

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