Discuss: Nissan's Signal Shield

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May 4, 2017 at 05:19:20
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Hi all,

This week's poll question is about news that Nissan has created a prototype armrest that blocks all cellular signals when a phone is placed inside of it. Discuss here if you think distracted driving is on the rise or fall, and, if you like, the poll results themselves.


See More: Discuss: Nissans Signal Shield

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May 4, 2017 at 07:25:56
On the rise - yes and it kills. Folk seem unable to survive without a phone permanently strapped to their brain. I think Nissan have a good idea if it works. Safety is more important than immediate chatter and it seems folk are not prepared to wait to do so:

Presumably in future nobody will buy a Nissan though.

From the poll so far it seems the killer instinct is alive and well (4:1 regard their cell phone as more important).

I would never use a cell phone whilst driving (hands free or not) - there are enough distractions about so why add one which can so easily be avoided?

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

message edited by Derek

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May 4, 2017 at 12:15:43
If folks can't be without using their phone while driving what makes Nissan think they will stow the phone away in that compartment.

What is needed is stronger enforcement. IMO, the problem is that the police do not patrol the roadways anymore like they used to. Now it is 90% radar checks and 10% accident response. When I grew up you were just as likely to get any moving violation as you were speeding (no radar yet). Not anymore. Writing speeding tickets has become a revenue stream for many communities.

Used to be a traffic stop was educational. Writing speeding tickets that were observed via radar teaches us nothing.

Just look around you at all the things that drivers now are guilty of. Even in front of law enforcement. Running red lights, blocking crosswalks, excessive lane changing, just to name a few. When have you seen someone ticketed for any of those.

Talking on the phone is just another distraction. What it comes down to at the end of the day is one thing. Are you endangering or annoying fellow drivers? If so, you deserve a ticket. You are unlikely to get one these days though. The police are not patrolling much, so they probably won't see you.

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May 7, 2017 at 11:10:48
A cell blocking armrest isn't the answer. Actually, it's seems kinda pointless. There needs to be a way to block the driver from using a cell but still allow passengers to use theirs. It should be tied-in with the vehicle being in motion or the transmission being in Drive.

I see the NO vote is beating the YES vote. I'd like to hear their reasoning.

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May 7, 2017 at 11:55:57

I voted NO because I feel that this issue is much like gun control. If you make laws that limit or ban cell phone use a segment of society will choose to ignore the laws and continue their excessive use, including texting. There are legitimate reasons to use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. If the police patrolled, as I expounded on in my response above, they could determine justified and prudent use.

I occasionally do speak on my cell phone. I don't do it for entertainment purposes. I keep my use time short and I have NEVER texted while driving.

If you read the causes of accidents you will see that cell phone use is just one of many behaviors behind the wheel. Passing more laws is not the answer. There are already laws on the books that allow police to ticket drivers for distracted driving. I say enforce existing laws. This would require police to actually patrol most of their shift when not specifically on a call or traffic stop. If society were serious about this issue my suggestions would be in place. If that were to ever happen then drivers would become more skilled and conscious of their fellow motorists.

There, I am off my soap box for now.

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May 7, 2017 at 14:36:23
Quite a distraction. See this video example:

"There are legitimate reasons to use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle"
I'm curious as to what you consider these are.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

message edited by Derek

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May 7, 2017 at 16:41:57

Some examples: Reporting dangerous driving by another motorist. Reporting an accident that just happened. If someone texts you a 911 and you can't pull to the side. Police use cell phones all the time. Are they exempt?

Here in Michigan we are encouraged to report erratic driving.

No doubt talking on a cell phone is a distraction. Is it any more distraction than drunk driving, texting, eating, reading, applying makeup, listening to loud music, disciplining your children, etc? I see these on a daily basis with no enforcement. We don't need more laws, we need enforcement of existing laws.

Police can, and do, deal with all of the above. That is when they are on patrol.

Erosion of individual rights in the name of safety or the betterment of society is going down a slippery slope.


Here in Michigan it is already a violation to text while driving. I see it every day anyway. No enforcement!!! Much more dangerous than talking on the cell, IMO.

message edited by OtheHill

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May 7, 2017 at 17:54:18
I agree some examples in your first para but not "reporting dangerous driving". Driving dangerously yourself to report others seems a bit odd.

As for the other distractions I find it hard to understand how they somehow justify the addition of another one that is mostly unnecessary and easy to avoid. Two wrongs don't make a right.

I do agree about enforcement. Laws have no meaning if they are not policed. However for them ever to be policed they have to be there in the first place.

Maybe I have a problem but I found the video in my #5 very moving indeed. To my mind the less of that sort of thing that happens the better. I think too many motorists have an inflated idea of their driving abilities. Cutting out as many distractions as possible can only be a good thing.

Maybe time to agree to disagree on some of this stuff.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

message edited by Derek

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May 7, 2017 at 18:06:48
In addition to people texting and driving, I have a serious issue with other behaviors people exhibit while driving. Smoking and drinking. Smoking and talking on a cell phone. Smoking with kids in the car. Eating and drinking while driving. Reading the newspaper (yes. I've seen it.) So far, the only laws on the books (that I'm aware of) are for texting and talking on cellphones while driving.

Doing the best I can here... And remember, there's always more than one path to success. :)

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May 7, 2017 at 20:59:15
It's just more unneeded technology. If a person is inclined to talk or text while driving they're not going to use the armrest. If they're not inclined then they don't need the armrest.

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May 7, 2017 at 21:23:44
"Dangerous Driving" AKA Road Rage. Perhaps you don't have road rage in the UK. In case you don't know the term, it is when someone reacts violently to some real or perceived incident involving cutting them off, for instance. They, in turn may tailgate, or pass and cut-off the other car. This can go on for miles. The police will respond to calls from witnesses to that behavior. These incidents have resulted in accidents and even shootings.

With that threat do you think someone calling 911 on their cell phone to report it is equally dangerous?

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May 8, 2017 at 08:49:45
I didn't understand the 911 bit earlier on but from #10 I now do. We do have road rage in the UK but I've never heard of shootings because, thank goodness, guns are not such everyday items here. I wouldn't want to risk writing off a family or two in order to report road rage and would prefer to just hope that the cops spot them. I'm not one for vigilante stuff anyhow.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

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May 8, 2017 at 10:05:04
The road rage may be aimed at your vehicle. You certainly would call 911 then?

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May 8, 2017 at 10:14:26
I voted no. Here's why.

First of all I think that people using their phones whilst driving IS dangerous, ranging from mildly to very seriously depending on how much they use it and how much it distracts them from the road.

However, there is no way that cars should block signals, for three main categories of reasons; Practicality, Usefulness and Side-Effects.

Blocking the signals would mean that people who are legally and safely using hands-free systems would no longer be able to. As pointed out by others, you need to make emergency calls and there are reasons why you would want to call the police whilst on the move (for instance, being chased by stalker / criminals etc. but there are many other examples). It also means you wouldn't be able to use the phone while the car is stationary (so if that stalker caught you up, you're now effectively in a prison of your own making, unable to communicate with anyone without first entering the open where danger lies). All passengers would be unable to use any communications devices.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of side effects, there are many more that I won't go into. However, the most important side effect, to my mind, would be that it would simply mess up everybody's signal, even if they aren't in a car, any time there is a car between you and the tower. Imagine how that would be if you lived or worked near a busy road. It's like the equivalent of putting a mesh-covered windmill directly in front of a cell tower.

There's also the impracticality of it, even if you could force all car manufacturers to design their cars to be signal-proof, you can't force the public to all upgrade to these new cars asap, it would take at least 20 years for the older cars to fall out of use, even then there will be some around. Also, how do you get all the windows to be signal-proof? The only way I know of would be to run wires through them all, and personally, whenever I'm in cars with heated windscreens, therefore have wires running through them, it makes my eyes go funny after ten minutes. This, along with all the other things that would need upgrading would make the cars even more expensive, something nobody wants.

Finally, what's the point? If you did manage to achieve all this, the very 1st thing people would do is install an antenna outside of the car body, or tap into the radio one, either way they could and would quickly circumnavigate this hindrance.

In conclusion, cars blocking signals is ineffective, costly, slow to have any impact and has minimal impact when it does. The current solution of compliance is my favoured one, we don't ban cars because they're dangerous, we simply give people a list of rules to follow and remove their right to drive if they don't follow the rules. It obviously has many flaws (both driving laws and driving using mobile laws), though I believe these can be significantly improved with time and careful consideration, however they will never be perfect. What needs to happen is changing people's minds, they need to know they are more distracted than they think they are but also to remember, if they get a text, it can wait! This applies to people socialising too. And a call can be returned, or answered if you find a safe place to stop in time. If the call is important, it's best to stop and give your full attention anyway and if it's not important, then it's not important so who cares, you can return the call at any time, if you want to at all.

It's worth mentioning, the actual way we will curb (or stop entirely) people from using phones whilst driving will be technical surveillance. Cameras, of course, but also the phones themselves (and the cars). Think about it, your phone already knows what speed you are travelling and whether or not you are using any hands-free systems, all that remains is to reliably prove you were the driver at that time, simply proving you are the only one in the car would suffice in most cases. More likely, they will automatically prosecute if they have reason to believe you were driving (registered car owner or no other people detected in car) and put the onus on you to prove you were not driving. Of course many will try getting a friend to claim they were driving, until they track that person's phone history and prove they were not and slap you both with perjury. Scary isn't it? Unfortunately, that is without a doubt what will happen in the (fairly near) future.

It's ineffective, has lots of downsides and no upsides. In a word, stupid.

I hope this informed you why you were wrong to vote yes :)

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May 8, 2017 at 13:29:55

In this case Nissan has built in a compartment in the armrest that blocks cell phone reception when the phone is stored in that compartment. Totally useless idea.

I do agree that cell phone signals should not be blocked in the vehicle if moving or stopped.

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May 9, 2017 at 12:29:55
This reminds me of a discussion I has with someone some time back who was adamant about enforcing no talking on the cell while driving laws. I mentioned my hands-free bluetooth in my vehicle and he said that that should not be allowed either. I said then logically (according to his logic, not mine) the driver in a vehicle should legally be stopped from talking to passengers while driving too. He said that was different and not as distracting. I won't go into the total lack of thought and logic put into that response but I think all mature, intelligent adults will agree that handsfree is really no different than talking to a passenger and no more distracting.

I think if you could figure out a way to restrict texting, or talking on a cell phone while holding it and driving, then that would be a good idea and I'd be all for it. But to arbitrarily make it impossible for all drivers to use their cell is overkill. Especially in vehicles equipped with handsfree bluetooth.

If distracted drivers only killed themselves I'd say make no laws against it. Culling the stupid out of the herd can only improve the species. But sadly, they, like drunk drivers, tend to kill others and not themselves so something has to be done.

I think a little more policing on this would be helpful. I saw a video recently from the UK I think, where a cop on a motorcycle was going through traffic pulling people over for talking and texting while driving. A squad like that in every city big enough to have it's own police service would go a long way to stopping some of the behavior. But sadly, again like drunk driving, you won't stop those determined to do it. All we can do is hope they drive off a cliff or into a big solid object and only hurt themselves.

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

***William Henley***

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May 9, 2017 at 13:33:58
It's been proven that hands-free is just as bad as using a hand held. You would think that hands-free is just the same as talking to a passenger, but it's not. When talking on a cell, the mind tends to wander & visualize what's being discussed. The person on the other end has no idea what you're doing or seeing & will just keep yacking away. A passenger in a car is in the same situation as you & should be seeing what you're seeing. He or she should know when to shut up & may even be able to warn you of a potential problem. Regardless of hands-on or hands-free, use of a cell while driving is dangerous. Numerous studies & statistics back that up. I stick by my other response: There needs to be a way to block the driver from using a cell but still allow passengers to use theirs. It should be tied-in with the vehicle being in motion or the transmission being in Drive.



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May 9, 2017 at 13:38:55
"handsfree is really no different than talking to a passenger and no more distracting"
There is a subtle difference. Both can distract but a passenger will know you are driving and will be less likely to expect a response if they see you are about to ram a truck. Someone who phones you will not even know you are driving unless you say so and can therefore push you into a detailed responses, quite oblivious to the fact that it causes you to multi-process. Obviously the driver does not have to respond in that situation but people can be funny about politeness when speaking to others (in the UK anyhow). For example, I am now quite happy to chase unwelcome callers off my drive but there was a time when I felt obliged to speak to them.

Another example of this politeness hang-up is when a phone rings, even at home on a landline. You can be in the middle of a discussion with someone who is present and almost always that will stop and folk will speak to the person on the phone instead, presumably putting the phone caller higher on their priority list. I guess this a psychological issue but it does exist.

I avoid using any kind of phone when I'm driving and don't find this to be a problem at all. Maybe there is some doubt about whether it is going too far or not but I regard it as better to play safe and avoid any risks that might be associated with it. It is more difficult to plan ahead for other factors such as the kids suddenly shouting at you and the police don't like you chucking them out of the window - it is dangerous as they might hit others..

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

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May 10, 2017 at 10:36:43
I'm glad you pointed out that there is a minor difference with speaking over the phone and to a passenger. However, I would say that when I use hands-free, I do let people know, I think everyone should and every now and again I'll say 'Uhhhh.... hang on a sec', followed by 'sorry about that, the guy in front was driving erratically (or whatever was the reason I needed to focus), where were we?'. Also, on the other hand, you tend to look at your passenger occasionally when talking so technically that's more distracting. On the whole though I think we can all agree that it's negligibly different but probably slightly worse than talking to a passenger.

Yes! I also hate it when people prioritise their phone over you, makes you feel less important than a random stranger. It's somewhat excusable with phone calls, may be urgent, but a text, by definition, is not. I was once trying to book an 'emergency' appointment in person at a doctor's surgery and 3 times she answered the phone in the middle of it, so I just sat down in the waiting area and rang her to say I was here and could she log me on the system to be seen. Worked.

Derek, it's simple, you just need to bubble wrap them first so they don't do any damage to the cars.

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