Text and driving (the real solution)

While ordering a phone today, I got lost in AT&T's site around teenage texting and driving, It Can Wait and remembered how much I hate it when I find myself looking at any driver, but especially those riding around in MomTanks (X5s, Lexuses, Toyotas made for carrying full on soccer teams and often handed down to teenage drivers) carelessly texting away while moving.

For a long time I've felt that this is a problem that needs a technical solution, and hopefully one which doesn't require the car to drive itself. The lame apps throw up that Waze "Are you the passenger?" dialog which everyone bypasses, a solution I've always felt has more PR/legal value than anything else. And as a matter of fact, it is unlikely that an app vendor is going to solve this (in what would be an Android specific way).

But just as Apple took major steps to deter rampant theft with the auto lock features of the phone, both they and Google could implement OS-level solutions that would prevent app use while driving a motor vehicle, likely with little work. The combination of sensors on the smartphone should be able to tell when it is being used by the driver as opposed to a passenger in what would be a really fun machine learning project. And to boot, despite my general antipathy for big brother type stuff, it would be easy for the phones to broadcast potential violations of driving and texting to potential law enforcement in a way that could really curb the habit.

Today as I understand it, checking the cell data usage is common practice after an accident which helps with liability in the same way that the breathalyzer does. But this is a pocket super computer after all— shouldn't we be able to get a little more future to help out here as such?