Smart-Key for Cars
Smart-Key for Cars
Drinking and driving don't mix, nor does talking on the cellphone behind the wheel. Researchers have come up with an innovative automobile ignition key that prevents teenagers from talking on mobiles or sending text messages while driving.
The invention, by researchers at the University of Utah, is called Key2SafeDriving and is aimed at cutting down on road deaths. It relies on Bluetooth technology to wirelessly connect keys to phones, Livescience reported on Friday.
"The key to safe driving is to avoid distraction,"says Xuesong Zhou, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering who co-invented the system with Wally Curry, a University of Utah graduate now practicing medicine in Hays, Kan."We want to provide a simple, cost-effective solution to improve driving safety."
The system includes a device that encloses a car key - one for each teen in the family. The device connects wirelessly with each key user's mobile via either Bluetooth or RFID (radio-frequency identification) technologies.
To turn on the engine, the driver must either slide the key out or push a button to release it. Then the device sends a signal to the driver's mobile, placing it in "driving mode" and displaying a "stop" sign on the phone's display screen.
While in driving mode, teen drivers cannot use their mobiles to talk or send text messages, except for calling 911 or other numbers pre-approved by the parents. Incoming calls and texts are automatically answered with a message saying, "I am driving now. I will call you later when I arrive at the destination safely."
Studies by other researchers at the university have shown that driving while talking on cellphones is as dangerous as driving drunk. Several states have banned phoning and texting while driving, particularly for novice drivers. While statistics are difficult to come by, one estimate made prior to the rise in popularity of texting held that cell phone distraction causes 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries in the US every year.