A new patent filed by Apple could prevent the iPhone’s of motorists receiving text messages while they are at the wheel, in a bid to improve road safety.

In the filing at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Apple claims that texting while driving has become a major distraction for motorists, and legislation banning the practice does not appear to have made a sufficient impact on teens in the US, saying:

“Texting while driving has become so widespread it is doubtful that law enforcement will have any significant effect on stopping the practice”

To prevent people from ignoring the law, Apple proposes two solutions. The first solution involves the iPhone analysing data from its GPS, accelerometer, light sensor and mobile data to determine whether the person is driving, and disabling certain functions, such as texting, if this is the case. The second solution involves a modification to the car, where the vehicle would emit a specific radio frequency, which could be picked up by the phone, demonstrating that the iPhone user was inside teh car, and then again some functions of the phone could be disabled.

There is a major flaw in both of these options, however, in that the technology would also disable functions in the phones of passengers in the car, who very well might like to be texting. To combat this, Apple says that the disable could be overridden by user interaction, with the user using the camera to video and pan around the vehicle to prove they are not at the wheel, although this is far from an elegant solution.


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