A patent filed by Apple has the potential of saving lives of road travelers since it would prevent motorists from texting while driving.
The technology involves the installation of a sensor that would prevent access to an iPhone's messaging apps. But the restriction is limited to the driver and excludes passengers through detecting the position of the smartphone user in the car and the vehicle's speed.
The patent application stated that the Cupertino-based firm is developing "lockout mechanisms that disable the ability of a handheld computing device to perform certain functions, such as texting, while one is driving."
It added, "(Police) report their ability to catch offenders is limited because the texting device can be used out of sight (e.g., on the driver's lap), thus making texting even more dangerous. Texting while driving has become so widespread it is doubtful that law enforcement will have any significant effect on stopping the practice."
Texting while driving boosts the chances of a car crash 23 times because it slows a driver's reaction by more than one-third, according to Brake, a road safety charity.
Because texting is deemed an addiction that his hard to break even when behind the wheels, AA Head of Motoring Policy Paul Watters commended Apple for the planned sensor, saying, quoted by The Times, "Apple could have the power to change the culture behind texting and driving, if it works and in intuitive. That would be a very good step."
However, the patent has the potential of making it hard for law enforcers to detect if the driver is using the phone's other apps since the device would be rendered out of sight from the police because of the technology's capability of blocking out phone signals from the outside.
If the technology is successfully in stopping texting while behind the wheels, many law enforcement agencies would surely appreciate the technology also being adopted by other major phone makers such as Samsung and Microsoft, which hopefully would not end up again as patent wars.