Texting while driving is extremely dangerous, and certain governments decided to raise awareness of that in some very brutal ways. ComSonics took a much safer route and developed a radar gun capable of catching drivers texting.
A few years ago, an ad commissioned by the Tredegar Comprehensive School and Gwent Police depicted teens meeting their end in an extremely gruesome way, just to prove that texting while driving is a big no-no. Not long after that, the Romanian Police launched a road safety campaign that showed a feature phone’s display with the text “I said I’m sorry, what the truck!!”. The effect wasn’t as expected, as that is a really poor attempt at a word play, not to mention that the idea was stolen from Aviva. These ads (especially the first one) are meant to stay with you a very long time, and will most certainly pop into your mind if you ever think of texting while driving. The radar gun that detects texting might sound less traumatizing, but it’s also less effective.
While texting, mobile phones emit radio waves of a frequency that differs from the one used when making a phone call. Virginia-based ComSonics developed a radar gun that makes use of this very concept, but as it’s anyone’s guess that this radar is not without downsides.
The main problem with this radar gun is that the same radio frequencies are detected also while receiving, not only while sending a text. Secondly, what if the co-driver is texting? The police would still claim that the driver is guilty, even if it was a false positive. If the radar gun could be correlated with traffic cameras, then there would be no doubt that it was indeed the driver who was texting and not someone else.
Yet another issue is the emergence of personal digital assistants such as Microsoft’s Cortana, Mountain View’s Google Now or Apple’s Siri. The driver could dictate the text to be sent to the PDA, and the police would incriminate the driver wrongfully. It would be equally difficult to distinguish between the driver’s phone and the car’s own communication system. That being said, the chances of this product hitting the streets are pretty low, even though the idea itself is unique.
I guess that “Don’t text and drive” is the new “Don’t drink and drive,” as with different times, different dangers are presented to us.