Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that distracted driving is responsible for a staggering 1,000 injuries and eight fatalities per day here in the U.S. As if this wasn’t discouraging enough, many experts believe that it’s also played a role in the recent spike in pedestrian fatalities across the nation, which reached an unbelievable 6,000 people last year.
While there are any number of ways in which a driver can be distracted — from eating or talking to a passenger to adjusting the radio or checking their appearance in the mirror — there’s no question that the number one reason why people are taking their eyes, ears and minds off the road is their smartphones.
Interestingly enough, one of the world’s biggest automakers, Nissan, unveiled a new concept this week that relies on some decidedly old technology to help prevent drivers from talking and texting.
On Monday, the Japanese automaker unveiled a prototype of a device it’s calling the Signal Shield, but which in reality is a sort of Faraday Cage.
For those unfamiliar with this concept, the Faraday Cage, which was invented in 1838, is comprised of conductive material designed to block electric fields. This means that any smartphone placed inside one would be unable to receive any form of communications, including cellular signals, WiFi, data or Bluetooth.
What makes Nissan’s Signal Shield different is that it’s comprised of a device that is specifically designed to fit in the center console of its Juke model. When the lid is closed, no calls or texts can be received, but when the lid is opened, the phone functions as normal.
Furthermore, Signal Shield is equipped with a cable to which the phone can be connected, such that its functions could be accessed via the SUV’s infotainment system.
While many experts are pessimistic about the viability of Signal Shield — a Faraday Box can be purchased online for as little as $10 — still others believe Nissan is perhaps onto something or, at the very least, should be commended for trying something new to combat the distracted driving epidemic.
It will be interesting to see what happens …
If you’ve been seriously injured or lost a loved one due to the actions of a distracted driver, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.