Radar Gun-like Device Will Catch Texting Drivers

By  //  September 18, 2014

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Radar Gun-like Device Will Catch Texting Drivers

By Dave Forster, The Virginian-Pilot

A Virginia company is developing a radar gunlike device that would help police catch drivers as they text.

Malcolm McIntyre

Malcolm McIntyre

The technology works by detecting the telltale radio frequencies that emit from a vehicle when someone inside is using a cellphone, said Malcolm McIntyre of ComSonics.

Cable repairmen use similar means to find where a cable is damaged – from a rodent, for instance – by looking for frequencies leaking in a transmission, McIntyre said.

A text message, phone call and data transfer emit different frequencies that can be distinguished by the device ComSonics is working on, according to McIntyre. That would prove particularly useful for law enforcement in states such as Virginia, where texting behind the wheel is banned but talking on the phone is legal for adult drivers.

ComSonics, based in Harrisonburg, got its start in the cable TV industry and provides calibration services for speed enforcement equipment. McIntyre discussed the company’s move into texting detection Monday at the second annual Virginia Distracted Driving Summit.

He said the device is “close to production” but still has several hurdles to clear, including legislative approval and adoption by law enforcement. There are also privacy concerns, though McIntyre said the equipment could not decrypt the information that is transmitted by drivers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A survey of more than 90 teens from more than 26 high schools nationwide conducted nationwide by Liberty Mutual Insurance Group in 2006 showed that 37% of students consider texting to be either “very” or “extremely” distracting. A American Automobile Association study showed that 47% of teens admitted to being distracted behind the wheel because of texting, this is alarming because 40% of all American teen say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger.

Texting while driving has been outlawed for all drivers in the following states: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada. New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

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