Texting Detector Could Help Police Catch Illegally Texting Drivers

Texting while driving may be illegal in 32 states but catching mobile texters in the act isn't easy. That may be about to change, however, thanks to an innovative hand-held text message detector being developed by a Virginia technology company.

Harrisonburg, VA-based ComSonics provides calibration services for speed enforcement equipment but the company got its start servicing the needs of the fledgling cable TV industry. Frequency scanners designed by ComSonics enabled cable repairmen to zero in on damaged cables that “leak” frequencies.

While researching ways to fine-tune their frquency-detectors, ComSonics noted that different types of data transmissions emit different frequencies. Besides cable TV signals, these transmissions also include mobile phone calls and text messages.   

According to Malcolm McIntyre of ComSonics, an extensively modified version of the company's trusty cable TV frequency detectors can help law enforcement authorities distinguish between talkers and texters at a distance. Such a device would be a useful tool for police in states such as Virginia, where texting while driving is illegal but talking on a cell phone (by adult drivers) behind the wheel is not.

McIntyre introduced ComSonic's upcoming text detector at the second annual Virginia Distracted Driving Summit where no doubt the audience was very receptive to the concept. In its final form, the device would look much like a standard hand-held radar detector and would be used in much the same manner.

Smokey Bears and subversive texters shouldn't get too excited too soon, however. Though McIntyre stated ComSonic's text detector is “close to production”, non-tech factors including legislative approval and formal adoption by law enforcement agencies still had to be surmounted. Privacy concerns over such a device have also been raised, although McIntyre was quick to reassure Summit attendees that the device could only detect texting and would be unable to decrypt any data or information transmitted between drivers. (via PilotOnline.com)