Would You Pay To Make Sure People Couldn't Call You While Driving?

from the i-sense-a-problem dept

We've seen all sorts of weird or questionable applications, but here's one that we can't quite figure out who would buy. It's an application for your mobile phone that determines if you're moving, and routes the call directly to voicemail. At the very least, it tells the caller that you're driving right now and can't come to the phone, but is that really that important? And how does the app know whether the mobile phone holder is driving... or just a passenger in the car? Or on a bus? And, more importantly, why can't people just not pick up the phone while they're driving? Are people really so addicted to picking up their phone when it rings that they would need to pay for an application that stops them from doing so? If there really are such people, we've got a better solution: turn off your phone when you drive. It's cheaper.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Hulser, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 8:47am

    Conditioned response

    And, more importantly, why can't people just not pick up the phone while they're driving? Are people really so addicted to picking up their phone when it rings that they would need to pay for an application that stops them from doing so?

    In a word, yes. Maybe "conditioned" would be a better word than "addicted", but I think that especially for people who grew up before cell phones, a ringing phone is irresistable.

    Think of these examples...

    You're at lunch with a couple of friends. One gets a call on his mobile. He answers it and starts talking, leaving you and your other friend to stare at each other until the conversation is over. Phone guy chose to go out to lunch and talk to you, but suddenly he's talking to someone else.

    You're in line at a store and the cashier answers the phone instead of helping the people in line. There are people who are actually in the store, ready to hand over money, but the cashier it talking to someone who may or may not get to that same point.

    In both cases, logic would dicatate that the person not answer the phone. Cell phones have voice mail. Serve customers that are actually ready to give you money first. But people are so conditioned to answer the phone that logic is overridden. I'm sure someone has done a paper on this already, but there's a disconnect between our conditioning around communication (which was developed before the explosion in communication media) and the number of communication media that the average person has access to today.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    some old guy, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 8:47am

    not for me

    This is not for me, but I would LOVE it as a parental control.

    Would also be a nice "feature" for insurance reduction.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Haywood, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:08am

    So if you are stopped at a light??

    Then the call goes through?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Xerloq, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:09am

    I disagree with Hulser. It is addiction to be connected. Some people consider it rude to not answer their cell phone, which baffles me.

    I've told friends and colleagues that I don't answer my cell if otherwise occupied and they look at me like I'm crazy. "What if it's really important?" to which I respond "What if I didn't have a cell/the battery died/I left it at home/etc., how would you reach me?"

    I like the idea as a parental control. It beats wrapping my car in a Faraday cage.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Lost in NJ, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:11am

    My phone has the built in, It's called "Ignore"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    fprintf, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:11am

    Parents

    Parents buying it for their teenage drivers would be #1 buyer of this in my opinion.

    Second buyer would be government/public/business institutions that don't want their people talking while driving. Sure there are some problems, as you'd identified, but if there could be any reduction in liability for any group that chooses to use these - you can bet someone will jump on it. Insurance companies, for example, would love to create a tier that initially gives better rates to someone with this installed on their mobile phone. (eventually, like everything else, it becomes commonplace and the "discount" eventually goes to zero)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:12am

    I used to work retail in a criminally undermanned store. Usually your manager has standing orders to answer the phone current customers be damned. Usually I was very good about answering the phone and keep the line moving (yay multitasking) but I remember more than a few co workers completely stop and some times chit chat with the person on the line while the line just grew. Sadly if you are already in line to buy something usually the store doesn't really care anymore, it's assumed you are buying even if you have to wait a while. (this is only really true with stores that are undermanned)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    hegemon13, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:15am

    People will buy anything

    Hmmm...I have that application for free. It even has a hotkey. It's a round button on top that has the power symbol on it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Stephan Miller, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:17am

    Turn it off

    I just don't answer the phone when I am driving. This question hardly makes sense.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:19am

    It's funny how many people feel this compelling urge to answer the phone when it rings. Personally, I have no issue ignoring it and calling that person back.

    I'd pay nothing for this - I just let it ring and call the person back when I am able to.

    But some people might buy it - and to that, I guess for that market, it's a good product. I can't really say it's worthless; since a product's worth is what the customer is willing to pay for it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:21am

    I have a cellphone...

    I have a cellphone for my convenience, not anybody else's. So, when I'm busy, in a meeting, driving, or engaged in any other activity that is more important that answering the phone, I simply don't answer the phone. The call goes to voicemail, and I respond when I can.

    Just how hard is that, anyway??? You would think everyone is a slave to their electronics.
    ---
    www.chl-tx.com :: Nothing deters violent crime as effectively as the possibility that your intended victim might shoot you. Nothing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Buzz, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:25am

    Re: Conditioned response

    I was just about to say this exact thing. People are just conditioned to answer the phone regardless of circumstances.

    Fortunately, I was raised without that impulse. Growing up, if my family was playing a board game together, my dad would tell everyone to ignore the phone if it rang. Many years later, I married a cellphone generation girl. She was *OFFENDED* to the utmost degree one day when she saw me look at my cellphone (we have no landlines) to see who was calling, silence it, and put it away. I had to explain to her that my life is not controlled by others' timetables. She isn't so offended anymore when I do that. :P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Hulser, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:26am

    Re:

    Well, I can see why people would use the word "addiction" to describe some people's relationship with their mobile/PDA, my point was that you don't have to be a Crackberry addict to fall into this conditioned response. If you did a study where you gave people a mobile phone who'd never had one before and put them in a cafeteria with hidden cameras -- showing them how to both answer and ignore a call -- I bet that almost every one would choose to answer the phone instead of ignoring it. The point it, that even if you factored out the "addicts", you'd still have the conditioned response.

    BTW, people only use the word addiction when they believe an activity is unhealthy. Personally, I don't think that just because someone spends a lot of time "connected" that it's an addiction. Yes, anything can be taken to extremes but being connected is not, in and of itself, harmful or unhealthy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Buzz, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:28am

    Re: I have a cellphone...

    I am with you all the way. I never let my cellphone interrupt me. I am finishing up college right now; my cellphone remains OFF during (and between) classes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:33am

    It's more rude to ignore your customers and to talk on your phone instead of to your physical friends. It's an addiction.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:34am

    Cant....NOT...answer.....cell.....cant.....not.....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Hulser, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re: Conditioned response

    She was *OFFENDED* to the utmost degree one day when she saw me look at my cellphone (we have no landlines) to see who was calling, silence it, and put it away.

    Ha! Good on you. I think that 20 years ago or more, it made sense that it was considered rude to ignore a phone call. I mean, someone went through the trouble of actually going to where the phone was kept in their house and remembering or looking up your phone number. But now with it being so easy to make a call, this response is outdated. The formula has changed, so now it's actually more rude to answer the phone in many situations.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Nathania, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:36am

    Who cares if people want to buy?

    Who cares if people want to buy it? It's not illegal. It may be useful to some people. I like someoldguy's suggestion of it being a parental control.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    DS, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:40am

    No thanks. I can turn off my phone all by myself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Allan Leinwand, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:48am

    My guess is that the user of this service will not be the one purchasing it - it would be purchased by a parent for insurance reasons or a corporation to help enforce policy. I believe in some areas allowing teens to talk on their cellphones while driving can affect auto insurance rates. For others it may be against corporate policy to drive while on your cellphone (refer to how text messaging and cellphone use may have affected the recent LA train disaster).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:53am

    I never understood why people are so conditioned to ALWAYS answer the phone when it rings. I could be sitting on the couch watching TV and I still don't answer the phone half of the time. On the other hand, my wife even stops mid-sentence in a screaming-at-the-top-of-her-lungs rant at me to answer the phone.

    But would I pay to not be interrupted while driving? No. I usually don't answer the phone. But my car also has bluetooth capability built in, so I see the phone number on my instrument cluster and can hit answer/ignore from a steering wheel button.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Buzz, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:53am

    Re:

    I haaate it when people ask, "What if that call you just ignored was really important?" Certainly every missed call was a life-or-death emergency. I wonder how many people who called me are dead now... >_>

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    EVIL_BASTARD, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:09am

    First off let me say, in the interest of full disclosure, that I find the British (BBC link was no surprise) obsession with safety at any cost hilarious and deeply disturbing.

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -roughly attributed to Ben Franbklin

    ^^ = TRUE. (no one tell Bush and Paulson, they'd have to cancel their current campaign of theft and extortion.

    All that said, we should aggressively promote this new service, wait six months, then cancel the licenses and impound the vehicles of those who remain signed up. In conclusion to this long and rambling post, I leave you with this quote:

    "Here are your messages: 'You have thirty minutes to move your car.' 'You have ten minutes to move your car.' 'Your car has been impounded.' 'Your car has been crushed into a cube.' 'You have thirty minutes to move your cube." -Homer S.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Danny (profile), Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:25am

    Why didn't I think of that? [slap]

    Great idea here!

    So, now I am thinking of starting a company that will send someone over and slap you on the forehead every time you think of something dead obvious. I am sure people will pay for this, given all the trouble it is to slap one's self in the forehead.

    In fact... I can probably get this idea patented!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    diatribe, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:28am

    i personally would not, i do not talk on the phone while driving. but, i would pay for others to not be able to talk on the phone while they are driving. lame laws such as that passed in california this past summer indicating that people must use hands-free devices are pointless. it is the act of not focusing on the task at hand - driving - which puts the lives of others sharing the road at risk. not whether the person is yelling at a cheap microphone or holding a cell phone up to their ear.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:49am

    No

    . . . why would I, phones are really fancy these days, mine even has an ON/OFF button.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    PeterG, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:51am

    I keep my phone off most of the time.

    Am I the only one who uses his phone as an outgoing convenience feature? I carry my phone off 90% of the time. It is there for my convenience, not other peoples.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    bad idea, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 11:05am

    teenage feature?

    What are people thinking? "I'll turn off my kids cell phone while he/she drives, that must be safer" well, like one of a cell phones better "features" they are great for emergencies. For instance, A weirdo is following them home from, work and they can't get them to go away and I can't call any where (unlikely, but possible),or , a kid has just been kidnapped and the people haven't figured out they have a cell phone, but because they're in a car, they can't call (again unlikely, but possible). There is no good use for this app as Mike said, if you don't want calls while driving turn it off, or if you don't want your kids driving and talking, EDUCATE them why they shouldn't, and if that doesn't work show them some statics and those gory drivers ed videos/pics. Regardless, I'll pass on this app.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Alpha Computer, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 11:58am

    Hands Free Device

    I use a hands free device for my cell phone when driving. Around here, it's the law. But I still do not have to answer the call regardless, if the situation demands it.
    Like many, I wonder why I would pay to have my calls rerouted while I am driving? The hands free device cost a few coins and I plan to use it. As a business, people are always looking for money from me. Paying to this rerouting does not make good business cents!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    Steve R. (profile), Oct 15th, 2008 @ 12:07pm

    Wrong Question

    The REAL focus of this post should questioning why these services are not being provided as part of the product as a free feature. Yes I realize that companies want to make money and that they will attempt to sell you services that are essentially worthless. But there should be limits.

    Banks and credit card companies have been sending out solicitations for identity theft protection. Seems to me that preventing fraudulent use of credit cards and checks to a large degree is their responsibility. So why should we pay for a service that is their responsibility? (Yes the customer has an obligation to protect their card or check from fraudulent use too.)

    Since companies claim that they selling us products (such as mobile phones) for our benefit; for our benefit they should be providing safety features at no cost to us. After all, our legal system (in part) is based on suing those who sold us unsafe products. Turning the mobile phone off does not make it safe! (humor, for those so challenged.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    datgrl, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 12:08pm

    argh!

    "Would You Pay To Make Sure People Couldn't Call You While Driving?"

    It's called "turn off your phone so calls go to voice mail."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Scott, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 12:41pm

    Passenger

    Not that I would want a feature like this since I **do** make decisions about when to answer or not answer any of my phones; however, could the phone tell the difference when one was driving and when one was a passenger?

    Maybe the real solution here is to mandate manual transmissions. You need both hands and both legs to drive in traffic and it is hard to use a cell phone that way. Even harder to text.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    porkster, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 12:52pm

    Not everyone..

    Sad Mike,
    not everybody talks, walks and does the same thing as you. As mentioned by some of the posts above, some people may have a use for this app, even if you don't.

    Personally I would rather ban phone use while driving all together...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    l duvall, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 1:36pm

    Why pay somone else?

    Since when was it so difficult to decide to NOT answer the phone? I have always thought that if someone really wanted to talk to me, they should be willing to call me again, when I DON'T answer the phone while driving, or talking to someone else, or doing anything else that I prefer to do, rather than answer the phone.

    Such a service is a great idea, for those too timid to decide to actually not answer the phone on their own.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 2:43pm

    I can think of some pretty obvious reasons:

    1) Ringing can be distracting and/or startling, hardly what some more conscientious drivers want.

    2) Some callers (bosses, etc.) regard an unanswered phone as a "problem." Going directly to voicemail "solves" that problem.

    The question is, why didn't you think of these obvious reasons?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 15th, 2008 @ 3:31pm

    I Work With The Company That Does This

    Mike,

    Hmmm. Totally disagree with you on this one, and I like the fact that a lot of the other commenters did too! Of course, I have a financial bias on this since I'm on the Board of Advisers for Aegis Mobility, the Vancouver firm that provides this technology.

    The people who guessed that it's targeted at parents are spot on. But add employers with field forces to that list. These two groups pay the insurance premiums, and the full costs of any "distracted driver" accidents. Insurance firms are very much on board with this service, and are likely to offer discounted premiums to families/companies who can prove they subscribe.

    There were many comments about how this would be impractical. Relax, Aegis isn't dumb! The default is to re-route calls politely with a recorded agent (IVR) when the person is driving. This prevents the distracting ring, interruption, conversation, fumbling for a headset, etc. As people above have indicated, often compulsion drives the 'ring->answer' response, not good judgement. Aegis allows the bill payer to supply their judgement to the 'answer' decision.

    So what if a suspicious car is following you, as was suggested above? Or what if you are actually a passenger as Mike wondered? Well, of course there is an 'over-ride' feature that will allow users to place AND receive calls. The catch is that using the over-ride will trigger an SMS or other message to the bill payer. Absolute power to place or take a call always remains with the phone holder, but they are accountable. I think that solves the issues raised above?

    Don't pin this on the British just because it's a BBC article. The USA is a hot market for Aegis. Also, it is not necessarily offered for a fee. The carrier can determine whether to offer it for free, fee, or bundle. Also, insurance discounts may make it a net gain financially.

    I understand Mike's initial reaction. When I first met the Aegis founders three years ago, I cringed at the idea. I thought "You're going to go into cellular companies and try to convince them to offer a service that reduces people's use of cellphones?" But they convinced me of the business model, and they have done yeoman's work to get endorsements from major insurance brands, the NHTSA, and a multitude of other highway safety advocacy groups. So now carrier's have a target market: parents and employers, they have a safety-raising product that insurance companies endorse with their wallets, and they have a choice to get ahead of distracted driving, or to do nothing. We'll see.

    To be clear: this isn't a law, this isn't ever mandatory, this is the decision of a parent, a guardian, an employer, or whomever owns the payment responsibility for a cellular phone account. Neat idea for the market to decide.

    Derek Kerton,
    Occasional Techdirt Blogger
    Telecom Consultant
    www.kertongroup.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Thomas, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 4:03pm

    Re: People will buy anything

    No, no, no, not free! You should PATENT use of the power button to function as "ignore incoming calls" switch, and charge lots of money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 4:16pm

    Capitalism In Action

    There's no sustainable business model that you can build on simply telling people not to answer their phones. Whereas, to set up a whole new company, running a custom-built system, and charging fees for it, to answer those calls, store them and pass them on, can indeed be a business model. All because there's money involved.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Gary, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:14am

    remember when

    Remember when Cell phones were called MOBILE phones because people wanted to use them while mobile.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    David, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 12:39pm

    MOBILE phones

    Here in the UK, we still do call them "mobiles". "Cellphone" never caught on and, yes, as I drive for a living and see countless idiots who think they can multi-task by driving and hand-holding a phone at the same time (despite it having been illegal to do so here for some time now), I`m all in favour of some device to stop lunatics like that being able to answer the phone whilst on the move.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    No Sixpack, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 6:16pm

    Re: I Work With The Company That Does This

    Derek,

    Good luck with that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 20th, 2008 @ 3:21pm

    The Idea Has Lots Of Potential

    RE #41, "Good luck with that"

    Thanks (even though you are being sarcastic). This is a service that initially sounds bad to anyone. Our initial reaction is negative, because of course we first think of the Aegis service as something that will limit "ME"! But when we think of our teenagers being limited, or commercial drivers - we start to see this may have appeal. Nobody wanted hands free laws for themselves, but over 70% of people wanted them applied to others. Graduated driver's licenses are another limitation we have no problem supporting, because it was only imposed on teens.

    Not every company I work with ends up a winner, for sure. But I'm actually very optimistic here. Not only has Aegis gotten lots of industry support (NHTSA, insurance companies), but if you read comments
    2, 4, 6, 10, 18, 20, 25, 30, 33, 35
    in this thread, each one of them believes the idea has appeal. That's a very high number, especially based on a Techdirt post that positioned the idea very negatively.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 20th, 2008 @ 3:21pm

    The Idea Has Lots Of Potential

    RE #41, "Good luck with that"

    Thanks (even though you are being sarcastic). This is a service that initially sounds bad to anyone. Our initial reaction is negative, because of course we first think of the Aegis service as something that will limit "ME"! But when we think of our teenagers being limited, or commercial drivers - we start to see this may have appeal. Nobody wanted hands free laws for themselves, but over 70% of people wanted them applied to others. Graduated driver's licenses are another limitation we have no problem supporting, because it was only imposed on teens.

    Not every company I work with ends up a winner, for sure. But I'm actually very optimistic here. Not only has Aegis gotten lots of industry support (NHTSA, insurance companies), but if you read comments
    2, 4, 6, 10, 18, 20, 25, 30, 33, 35
    in this thread, each one of them believes the idea has appeal. That's a very high number, especially based on a Techdirt post that positioned the idea very negatively.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This