Case 1310 TWD Prevention
Case 1310 TWD Prevention
The concept to automatically prevent texting while driving has been in discussion for some time among the engineering community, and I proposed to submit a patent application according to my own idea. Readers will witness the proceedings of the application from the birth of the concept to application, argument and finally getting a patent.
The patent application will be written and shown in the next few columns. However, we are going to show you the thinking steps before the patent application can be written. First is the question “Is there a market for the system?”
The case of automatic prevention of TWD is a peculiar one. So let’s do the first step correctly. Define the problem in a practical English.
When attempting to text while driving, driver’s attention is diverted to texting from paying attention to driving safely. This produces a very high probability of accident. These accidents could cause serious injuries or death to the driver and passengers in the car. The casualty is extended to those other innocent cars that get involved in the accident.
A car driven at the speed of 60 mph hits an oncoming car in the opposite direction in the same speed range would have the impact force of 120 mph, and this will certainly result in a high probability of death if not very serious injury. Now let’s try to find out why do people try texting while driving. The best explanation is “addiction”.
An inventor working or attempt to work on a problem such as above, MUST first understand the cause as well. The cause may be a physical issues: limitation of a mechanism, poorly designed section of working, heat problem etc. What causes TWD? The best guess is, and we are quite right on this, addiction. Be it alcohol, drug, cigarette and other serious issues as domestic violence, addicts get minor pleasure from the substance or whatever he/she is addicted. The minor pleasure the addict receives is of very little value when analyzed, but then addiction is no based on logics. TWD is another addiction. And just like any other addiction, the users will do almost anything to use the substance in this case TWD.
As you know, all text messages you receive while driving car is NOT urgent or important. Text messages are just another social link, and the best we can describe is “what’s up?” or “howdy?” Since nobody drives continuously from dawn to dusk with no stops in between, all messages can be answered well within a few hours when pulling into a rest area. The fact that these drivers cannot wait to park the cars, and rather keep driving to text is due to addiction. All addicts ignore the inherent danger of driving while intoxicated, high on drugs and/or texting. I am sure some of them do all at the same time.
Our readers then would ask me, why I keep talking about addiction being the cause of the problem. What’s so special? Well, addictions are very abnormal cause, which transcends normal reasoning. Addicts would exert everything possible to try to enable the habit. They will steal, destroy properties, threaten others, disable or modify a mechanism, bypass alarm, you name it.
Design Criteria for Solution:
Once it is clear that TWD is caused by addiction, a normal mean to automatically prevent just wouldn’t work reliably. Addicts will always find out the method to disable the prevention mechanism. There are other design restrictions that need to be observed. What we need to automatically prevent TWD is only for the driver. The disabling system shouldn’t affect passengers. They should be able to text as they please. This restriction makes the system one notch more complex to design. The other factor is speed. If the car is parked, whether the engine is on or off, the text prevention system should be disabled for both drivers and passengers. Only when the car starts moving at, say, 2 mph, the disabling should function, and the driver can no longer text. The concept I proposed was to shower the driver with infrared light (invisible) emitted from the ceiling area, but not the passenger seating areas, both front and rear. The infrared shower sources (LED) are distributed inside the ceiling panel, and the driver cannot easily shield with adhesive black tape. The coverage of infrared shower extends partially into the front passenger seat as well as outside of the front driver’s window so that the driver cannot text with his/her left hand sticking out of the window.
This means that auto manufacturers need to add the infrared shower system as well as the signal input circuitry that connects the shower to the electronic speedometer.
The infrared shower is activated when the car’s speed reaches 2mph. When the smart phone receives infrared shower, it answers all text massages with “DRIVING, CANNOT REPLY” statement. This requires that the design change must be incorporated into all cell phones, and this means all cell phone manufactures have to comply with the recommendation by the government.
What about reception? Should the driver be able to receive text while driving? I would say NO! That’s a strong enticement to violate the prevention system. Either he would stop the car to text back all the time, or develop a system to disable the prevention mechanism permanently. So the design decision is for the driver in motion not to be able to receive or transmit text messages.
Another question is “What about the phone calls?” Should the driver, while the car is in motion, be able to receive or make phone calls? What do you think? The regulations are different by state to state. However, I see drivers on the road talking on the phone all the time. If we ban it that will have some strongly negative social response. I will just leave this point undecided as they system is capable of either way.
In conclusion, this system requires a strong governmental intervention such as that happened in installing the airbag that forced all manufacturers to install airbag accommodation.
Addicts get scared of violating laws and found by the police. Law Enforcement is essential in eliminating the high accident risk of TWD. Regardless how well the prevention system is designed, there’d be some addicts who would short-circuit the system. Beyond that point, we need to rely on the law enforcement people.
So far this is the design criterion that resulted in the TWD prevention system for cars.