Nannyism 1, Common Sense 0: Distracted Driving Prevention Goes High Tech

Last Updated Oct 5, 2009 10:07 AM EDT

Using mobile phones on the road is something of a contentious issue; even Business Hacks is evenly split with Rick taking the shrill, emotional position and Dave siding with logic and reason in a recent Guy Vs Guy.

But two recent developments threaten to change the way you interact with your cell phone while in a motor vehicle:

1. President Obama has signed an Executive Order prohibiting text messaging while driving. This applies to government employees using government vehicles, or using private vehicles on official business. In addition, the ban encourages federal contractors to implement a similar ban of their own.

Even as the government selectively adds new laws to restrict certain kinds of distracted driving (you know, that thing which is already illegal anyway), I'm seeing some interesting side effects -- such as the fact that police are already exempt from rules that keep them from typing while driving, and that truckers want to be.

2. More disturbing is iZUP from Illume Software, designed to disable your phone when the GPS chip senses "if a person is driving." The press release breathlessly announces that voice mail and email is held until the vehicle stops, but emergency calls may still be made. It doesn't, however, explain how the software can tell whether the phone belongs to the driver, a passenger, or just someone on a bus or train, or even if such distinctions are even possible. Personally, I fear the day when my phone gets to decide whether I'm allowed to use it or not.

What do you think? Are you as chilled by developments like this as I am, or am I a lone voice of reason in the wilderness?

Photo by Euro style