Hashtag designation, airplane mode hopes to curtail texting and driving

By Chuck Henson, Real Time Traffic Expert
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 20, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
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The message is clear. Do not text and drive. 

Getting the motoring public to adhere to that message is another story entirely.  

According to 2011 U.S. Government statistics, 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. That number was nine percent higher than the year before. 

In Florida, textiing while driving is secondary offense and does little to stop drivers from picking up the phone while behind the wheel.

Recently, Singer/Songwriter Robert Earl Keen tweeted a concept to his fans and followers in an attempt to bring awareness to the issue. In the tweet, he suggested Drivers use "hashtag X" (#X) as text shorthand for "I'm driving and can't respond." Drivers would send #X before starting the engine, then continue conversations once at their destination.

Journalist, Kriston Capps, from The Atlantic, says there may be a simpler way to achieve the same goal: airplane mode.

Capps suggests when a driver gets in the car, they simply put the phone in airplane mode. Messages will cue until such time that the phone is placed back into a normal operation mode.

Researchers at the Center for Urban Transportation Research at U.S.F have been exploring ways to get information to drivers, while at the same time not add to the problems of texting while driving. 

They've developed software which can know if a mobile device is in motion, and wait to send info until that motion stops.  

Researcher, Sean Barbeau, PhD. adds that while there are existing applications for mobile devices to keep drivers from texting while driving, most fail for a variety of reasons.

1.  Apps are Opt-in. Not mandatory.

2.  Apps use a great deal of device battery due to GPS tracking.

3.  Apps cannot differentiate between drivers and passengers.

Until an application which takes these factors into account can be created, there is no substitute for turning off your device, or placing it out of reach while operating a motor vehicle.