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Apple has patented a system that would lock drivers out of their smartphones while on the move, in a bid to cut down on accidents caused by texting and other distracting features

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Apple has patented a system that would provide a “lock-out mechanism” to stop drivers texting or using other distracting functions of their smartphones while on the move.

The patent describes how a device could determine if it was moving by looking at data from GPS, phone towers or even images from the camera. Visual clues would enable the device to calculate if its owner was driving the car or merely a passenger, imposing limits in the former case but not the latter.

Algorithms would look for a steering wheel in close proximity to the camera, or search for the number of faces – only one visible person would indicate that the user must be the one driving. It could also differentiate between the interior of a car and a train carriage or seat on a bus, where safety features would be unnecessary.

The application even suggests that the accelorometer could be used to detect when an unscrupulous driver was tilting the phone so as to not reveal the steering wheel and evade the safety feature. Sensing the speed of travel would also prevent the limits from kicking-in if the user was just walking.

Apple says in the patent application, filed in 2008 but only published and granted this week, that texting while driving has become a “major concern” of the police, and cites a 2006 study which found that 80pc of crashes were caused by distractions such as applying makeup, eating and text messaging.

The patent also claims that it is “doubtful” that police can stop people texting while driving because it can be done on the lap and is harder to spot.

Other studies have shown that sending text messages while driving was as dangerous as being a quarter over the legal drink-drive limit. The road safety charity Brake says that texting increases the chance of a commercial driver crashing by 23 times, and slows reaction times by 35 per cent.

The first part of Apple’s suggestion would use the phone’s own hardware to determine if it was travelling above a certain speed, and then lock the owner out of certain functions such as text messaging. It further develops the idea by suggesting that the car itself, or perhaps just the key, could be modified to send a signal to the phone to shut down certain features.

The application says that such a feature could be “a significant selling point in the eyes of concerned parents, and it could lead to legislation that would require all handheld computing devices to disable texting while driving.”

There are several Android apps which aim to perform a similar function, but Apple’s tight controls on what apps can and cannot access on the iPhone’s hardware have largely prevented similar software from launching on the iOS platform.

 

  • Always carry a survival pack in the car, including food, water and a blanket. This should include extra warm clothes.
  • Ensure your phone battery is fully charged and you have an in-car charger.
  • Put a shovel in your boot – in case you need to dig yourself out of trouble.
  • Consider fitting winter tyres, but even if you don’t, have your summer tyres checked. Winter driving means that tyres should have no less than 3mm remaining tread.
  • Have your battery checked. Batteries have to work extra hard in the cold and are more likely to fail.
  • Make sure your windscreen washer fluid is topped up with the correct concentration of screen wash. Windscreens get particularly dirty in the winter months and screen wash will help prevent the liquid from freezing.
  • Have your coolant checked – the antifreeze needs to protect your engine against the lowest of temperatures.
  • Have your air-con system serviced. It’s not just for summer – an effective air-con system will demist windscreens much more quickly, helping visibility.
  • Adjust your driving style to the conditions – be sensible in the rain, snow and ice.
  • Above all, in bad conditions consider whether your journey is really necessary.

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1: Take your time
So you’ve received your provisional licence and you’re eager to get started ASAP. Be prepared to take your time and try not to put too much pressure on yourself, there is a lot to learn. It’s quite common for people to tell you how few lessons they took, what they don’t tell you is that they had lots of private practice as well. Also remember that the driving test has got progressively harder over the years, lots of experienced drivers would most likely fail a driving test today. Remember what works for one person may not work for another. Take your time and become a good safe driver, taking your test then will just be a formality and you should pass first time very easily.

2: Learn the controls properly
Make sure you understand the basic controls and how to control the car properly. If you can’t control the car in all situations it will make you feel nervous and affect how you do on your lessons. If you intend to get some private practice with friends or relatives then tell them what you find difficult. You might just be far better going onto a car park to practice things that you need, such as, clutch control, steering between obstacles, braking evenly to a controlled stop or at a given mark, also reversing around corners and into parking bays. Remember that driving very slowly and accurately around tight areas requires much more skill than just driving along a road in a straight line. Constructive practice will benefit you greatly and you won’t be wasting valuable lessons learning the basics.

3: Buy some books
You will need to learn the Highway Code, not just because you have to pass a theory test, but because you need to know all the rules of the road. Driving can be very dangerous when you don’t know what to do because you haven’t read or understood the rules. Don’t just learn the theory questions off by heart, there are hundreds of things that aren’t covered in the theory test. Another good book worth reading is ‘Driving The Essential Skills’ this is a DSA publication. You might also call it the examiners bible. And remember it won’t cost you anything on loan from a library.

4: Ask you instructor
Don’t keep things to yourself, all of our instructors are friendly easy going people who are there to help you and teach you to drive safely, but they are not mind readers. If you don’t know a particular routine or manoeuvre please ask them again, they wont mind going over things as many times as necessary. Most instructors will have a few different techniques for teaching a certain skill and if one way is not working for you then they will have another method that might work for you better.

5: Practice on all types of roads
When learning to drive you should practice on every type of road (apart from motorways) You should not just drive around test routes, and then think you can drive. A good driving instructor will take you to areas that are unfamiliar to you with lots of variety of road and traffic conditions. This will definitely make you into a much better all round driver and when you do pass your driving test and buy a car you will feel a lot more confident about going anywhere in it.

6: Driving test myths
Some people who fail a driving test will often blame anybody and everybody before themselves. When you first meet an examiner they will have your marking sheet without any faults on it, your responsibility is to keep it that way. Driving examiners are very fair people who I’m sure would much rather pass you than fail you. All the stories about people failing because the examiner didn’t like them or they had to fail so many that week are total rubbish. Don’t listen to people who say these things, they are just making excuses about why they failed.

7: Take a mock driving test
At an appropriate time in your training your instructor should carry out a mock driving test. This mock driving test should be very realistic and include all things associated with an actual driving test. It is designed to see how you perform under test conditions including, how you drive independently on your own without any help from your instructor. Your instructor will only give you route directions and instructions.

8: Don’t tell too many people
When learning to drive you will often find that people are always asking you, when are you going in for your test. Our advice is to keep it to yourself because telling people creates pressure and pressure can make you worry, worrying too much about what you’re going to tell them can make you take your mind off your driving, which could then lead to a fail. Sometimes in life its far better to keep quiet and this is one of those times.

9. Keep your driving licence safe
When you go for both your theory test and driving test you will need to take both parts of your driving licence. Most instructors will tell you how they have had pupils who cant find their paper part of the licence, often leading to a frantic search of the whole house, followed by a mad dash to the test centre. Not a good way to start a test.

10. Get plenty of practice
If you were to ask most driving examiners why people fail their driving tests they would probably say that the person needed a lot more practice before coming for a test. Work it out financially, a person going in for a test too soon will most likely fail, they then have to have more lessons and pay another test fee, this can add up to a lot of money. It is far better and more economical to use this money and have more practice before your first test rather than fail and have to do it all again.

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