According to the National Safety Council (NSC), texting while driving causes around 200,000 accidents per year. Most states in the U.S. have passed laws in order to prohibit texting or complete cell phone using while driving. But people are still found texting behind the wheels. As the prohibitions don’t seem to hold, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) are trying to make a software that can keep the drivers away from texting while driving.
At present, there are many apps like Textecution, tXtBlocker, AT&T DriveMode, DriveSafe.ly, Safe Texting that can prevent users from texting or making/receiving calls while driving. But they are not intelligent enough to disable texting feature automatically when the user is behind the wheels.
Researchers at PNNL tried to resolve the problem by making an intelligent application . They ran test to determine how much time does a user take to type a message. During typing a message, if a user presses the buttons of the mobile irregularly while in a moving vehicle, then the app inside the mobile presumes that the user might be behind the driving wheel (user’s attention is divided into driving and messaging).
Based on this theory, the researchers of PNNL programmed a cell phone to log keystroke dynamics using a common operating system. Six people participated in the tests. The participants were instructed to text while operating a driving simulator. And they did so. As usual, their attention were divided into two parts – driving and texting. So the participants pressed the buttons of the mobile at irregular intervals. That time, the app presumed that the user might be driving.
Mike Watkins, developer of the algorithm said, “The things that we are measuring, the data never needs to leave the person’s phone. But as a parent, you could require your child to have something like this on their cellphone as a way to protect them. Employers could use it as a way to mitigate their liability for accidents on work time. Even insurance companies could use it.”
In fact, the new algorithm reveals the level of cognitive attention deficit while texting during driving. Researchers are hoping to expand their test with the actual car drivers.