Mobile phone physical standards

I responded to Ontario Today’s piece of mobile phone use in automobiles.

Subject: mobile phone usage in cars

I think it’s great if employers do not require, and even actively discourage mobile phone usage while driving. But, I suggest that maybe people are thinking about this in the wrong. Maybe it’s not the mobile phone that is inappropriate, maybe it is the DRIVING that is inappropriate.

I wish however to respond to the belief that we need to outlaw mobile phone usage while driving. I question if this is in fact enforceable, or if we really want to make it possible to enforce. Perhaps we really already have enough laws to deal with the problem — surely it’s illegal for a person to eat cereal while parked on the 401. (I think you had a call-in about this kind of thing).

Further, the number of mobile/connected devices is going to massively increase, not decrease. At some point, it may be that your driver’s license might in fact be a mobile device you use to authenticate to the highway. (Think 407ETR)

Instead, I think that the Ontario government can make some improvements that will have widespread effects on mobile phone usage and safety. What we need is to be able to take any mobile phone into any vehicle and have it operate in the most safe fashion. This means a hands free mode with a headset and/or speakerphone. To do this properly requires cooperation of the phone and vehicle.

The nice thing is that it would also significantly reduce the amount of waste in the form of “obsolete” mobile phones, batteries and accessories:

I would make it required that all mobile phones sold in Ontario: a) be unlocked, so they can be used with any mobile network provider (this would permit the phones to be re-used, rather than throw out) This might eliminate the $0 for your phone deal in its current form. Tough.

b) there shall be a standard headset adapter format. c) there shall be a standard interface to a charger. d) there shall be a standard mounting bracket. e) there shall be a standard battery format. (very controversial)

b,c,d would permit vehicles to be equipped with a standard way to mount your mobile phone on the dashboard so that it can get power from the car, and put the audio through the car speaker system. That would make mobile phone use in a vehicle very much safer.

e - would eliminate a lot of waste in batteries. I have two mobile phones would work fine if only I replaced the battery, and bought new chargers. But the cost of that exceeded the cost of a new phone. So they go into my junk drawer until I decide to put them in the landfill.

a - would create an actual market for used phones (they all have serial numbers, so it would be trivial to see if they are stolen)

This would not require that current mobile phones be changed, just that they come (at no charge) with some kind of adapter to adapt their current mechanism to the “standard”. New ones might come with the standard mechanism.

I think that this would be a massive boon to Ontario uses, and other jurisdictions would rapidly adopt our regulations. Yes, there will be costs, but as I have a different headset and a different charger (and replacement charge, and computer cable, and spare battery…) for EACH phone I’ve owned, I know that I’ll win in the end. The industry can not be depended upon to do this on their own — it’s not in their interest.