New Type of Detection Device Could Help Police Catch Texting Drivers


Georgia motorists who text below the dashboard to keep from getting caught could meet their match in a detection device a Virginia company is developing.

ComSonics is designing a piece of technology that would detect radio frequencies emitted from vehicles, using a means similar to cable repairmen who find damaged cable by looking for leaking frequencies, according to a recent article in The Virginian-Pilot.

The device would be so technologically advanced that it could distinguish between different frequencies put out by text messages, phone calls and data transfer, according ComSonics’ Malcolm McIntyre.

This type of equipment could enable police to pinpoint illegal texting and help Georgia avoid many of the horrendous car accidents caused by distracted driving.

Since 2010, texting while driving has been illegal in Georgia for all motorists, and any use of cell phones has been prohibited for young drivers.

But breaking old habits is hard to do.

Nationwide at any given time of day, 660,000 drivers are believed to be using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices, a figure that hasn’t changed since 2010.

Because texting and driving takes a driver’s visual, manual and cognitive attention away from the task of operating the car, it is considered the most alarming type of distracted driving, according to distraction.gov, the U.S. Government Website for Distracted Driving.

Fatalities from distracted-driving crashes totaled 3,328 in 2012, while 421,000 people sustained injuries in distraction-affected crashes, according to distraction.gov.

When Will Texting Detection Technology Be Available?

The Georgia Legislature’s move to prohibit texting and driving was a step in the right direction. Still, it’s difficult for police to identify drivers who are texting while driving. That’s why the technology being developed by ComSonics is so intriguing.

The company started in the cable TV industry and already offers calibration services for equipment used by law enforcement to enforce speed-limit laws, according to McIntyre.

The radar device that would detect texting frequencies is “close to production,” McIntyre said. But the technology must still go through legislative approval and acceptance by law enforcement agencies.

Concerns about violating people’s privacy are likely to be raised as well, but McIntyre notes that the equipment can’t decipher the frequencies or information drivers might be transmitting through text messages.

If this equipment is able to clear all legal hurdles, it could be a powerful tool for law officers to enforce Georgia’s restrictions on texting a driving in the years ahead.