Hyundai Wants to Fight Distracted Driving by Disabling Smartphones

Graduates of mechanic colleges may service a number of vehicles a week which have been damaged as a result of distracted driving. Sometimes these cars can be fixed, other times they’re totalled and must be sent to the scrapyard. Hyundai hopes to resolve the expensive and unnecessary damage of distracted driving by introducing new technology into their vehicles.

Read on to find out how this new technology will work.

How Wide-Spread is Distracted Driving?

Driving while distracted is a major problem on roads in Canada, and around the world. Using a cell phone to text or make phone calls are two of the leading causes of distracted driving. Here are some current statistics:

  • 20-30% of all collisions globally involve some form of driver distraction.
  • 4 million North American vehicle crashes a year are the result of distracted driving.
  • According to the Government of Canada, distracted driving accounts for a 1% loss in Canada’s GDP, or $10 billion annually, through lost productivity and related health care costs.
  • In Quebec, police issued 93,845 tickets for holding a cell phone while driving between 2008 and 2011. In Ontario, that number jumps to 235,000. These numbers have been increasing.
  • Younger drivers are more likely to text and drive, according to an Ontario study.

Hyundai’s Solution

Distracted driving is clearly a problem, and it’s one Hyundai has already been addressing. The company has posted information discouraging the practice on several of its dealerships’ websites. And, Hyundai recently published a patent for technology that may well make distracted driving a thing of the past, at least in their vehicles.

Once installed by an automotive technician, this technology can disable potentially distracting phones in a car. Here’s how it works:

  • Antennas are placed around the vehicle to search for cellular signals, and then selectively disable certain features.
  • The range could be limited to only the area around the driver’s head or the entire vehicle.
  • Time of the day, assigned importance of the caller and the speed the vehicle is currently travelling at are all factored into the technology’s decision of what cellular functions are safe and which should be disabled.
  • The phone needs to be running a specific program or firmware for the system to work.

This technology is still in the the patent stage, so don’t expect to see it in vehicles for a few more years. While it’s possible that this anti-distracted driving technology will be widely adopted, other companies have been working on their own built-in technology. For example, General Motors is currently developing their own in-car head and eye tracking system.

If Hyundai’s technology does catch on, it could very well revolutionize the way we approach vehicular safety. Instead of a focus on personal responsibility and law enforcement, cars would simply make it impossible to be unsafe. Of course, all this could change even more if vehicles were to become self-driving and autonomous in the future.

Do you think Hyundai’s new distracted driver technology will catch on? Will students enrolled in automotive courses help repair this technology in the near future?   

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