Cell Phones are the Key… Literally

Joshua W

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As an individual who has lived in Southern California since birth, I have seen my fair share of reckless and distracted drivers. And with the emergence of cell phones and increasingly advanced and connected smartphones, drivers are constantly tempted to check their phones at stops or even while driving. For example, drivers may change songs while driving, send a text message to a friend, or update their Facebook status… again. And although these distractions seem harmless to the driver at the moment, these distractions pull the driver’s eyes away for simply a few seconds. However, in those seconds while traveling at 40 or 50 mph can lead to a lifetime of pain and suffering through the loss of a loved one in another car in an accident. Although the advancement in the smartphone may seem like a possible root cause for this issue, the advancement in the cell phone can also present a solution. While smartphones become increasingly integrated in our everyday lives, our phones can also serve as a key and media center for our cars. Instead of using a traditional key, the driver has to place their cell phones on a dock or port of some kind and this will start the car and also use the cell phones software as the media center and navigation on a display in the car’s center console. However, this smartphone powered media center will have limited capability such as selecting music, calling, and displaying notifications. Functionality for this media center will be controlled through buttons on the steering wheel. Through the smartphone integration, the driver would be unable to use their cellphones while driving. Software amenities in the cell phones operating system or an application can allow for luxuries such as remote start from the phone and added security that links directly to the smartphone. However, in the case of the remote start, the phone would need to be docked within a certain amount of time following the remote start in order to prevent the engine from automatically shutting off. Although there currently exists little incentive for consumers to buy a car like this in the current market, the government could put in place subsidies or lowered vehicle taxes in order provide an incentive for consumers to purchase such a car. An older car could even be potentially retrofitted with a smartphone start and media center system so the consumer would not need to purchase a whole new vehicle. While this solution does not fix every reckless driving issue that exists and leads to the tragic death of so many people every year, this solution could present a solution to one prevalent issue that affects many drivers: smartphone distraction.