New interest in technology to reduce texting while driving


States would also have to limit cell phone use to devices with hands-free capabilities, and drivers under 18 years old would not be able to use a cell phone at all. The grants would be paid for with surplus funds from the existing seatbelt safety program.

Today I found some numbers about teen driver distractions that came from a report released earlier this month by Vlingo, which makes a product that lets people control their mobile phones with their voice rather than their hands.

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According to Vlingo's survey, 60 percent of teens admit to reading incoming text messages while driving. While 62 percent of teens support making driving while texting illegal, about half that number--34 percent--favor making it illegal only if a hands-free solution was available. Ninety percent of teens said they'd use a technology that lets them speak texts and emails and have incoming messages read to them while driving.

Of course, Vlingo has a vested interest in findings that say teens would favor a new technological advancement in this area. But it's also something FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told the committee he is interested in looking into.

"Some smartphones have interfaces for people with visual impairments," he said in his testimony yesterday. "Other technologies allow users to control, with their voices, their mobile phones and vehicle systems...There may also be opportunities to use RFID-sensor technology in keychains that would disable selected functions on a driver's device activated by the start up of their car."