The San Jose Mercury reports today on the order of 200,000+ tickets (possibly twice that number) issued in California to date for cellphone use while driving.
Many of us would like to get a message through -- safely! -- via cellphone to a relative or colleague whom we know may be on the road at the time we call.
I suppose one solution would be if future cellphones could have an "on the road" mode, activated by a button that drivers could punch as they fastened their seatbelts.
Doing so would activate a mini answering-machine plus speaker-phone mode that would respond to an incoming call by giving an audible beep; allowing a **brief** (electronically time-limited) audible voice message from the caller ("Sam, this is Sally, call me back when you have a chance") through the speaker phone: giving the caller some return indication that this has been done -- and then disabling further use of the phone in any way for, say, 5 minutes.
Up to the driver whether they want to pull off the freeway and return the call from some safe place where they can park briefly.
It's probably true that the beep and the message itself would be a minor distraction and hence hazard for drivers -- but a lot less than having the driver scrambling to dig a ringing cell phone out of their purse, jacket pocket, or the clutter in the front seat.
Could even have the phone keep a record of the timing of the "on the road activiation", in case there were ever some kind of legal inquiry into a subsequent accident or other event.
Now, where did I file the name of that patent attorney . . .?