Nissan considers phone blocking

Nissan GB appears to be going where insurers fear to tread by developing a solution to block mobile phone reception in its cars.

Called Nissan Signal Shield, the solution is a compartment within the arm rest of a Nissan Juke. Once the phone is placed inside it and the lid closed, it creates a ‘silent zone’ blocking all incoming and outgoing cellular, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections. The concept is based on the Faraday cage, an enclosure made of a conductive material, such as wire mesh, which blocks electromagnetic fields

Phone use behind the wheel is increasing, up from eight per cent to 31% in 2016, according to the RAC, while Nissan’s own research found that one in five drivers has admitted to texting behind the wheel.

The Nissan Signal Shield concept provides optional connectivity, giving drivers the choice between being able to contact and be contacted from the road, or creating a ‘phone-free’ space and time. If drivers want to listen to music or podcasts stored on their smartphone, they can still connect to the car’s entertainment system via the USB or auxiliary ports.

To restore the phone’s wireless connections, drivers just need to open the arm rest.

Alex Smith, managing director, Nissan Motor GB, said, ‘Nissan produces some of the safest cars on the road today, but we are always looking at new ways to improve the wellbeing of our customers. Mobile phone use at the wheel is a growing concern across the automotive industry, and indeed society, particularly with the high number of ‘pushed’ communications, such as texts, social media notifications and app alerts that tempt drivers to reach for their devices.

‘The Nissan Signal Shield concept presents one possible solution for giving drivers the choice to remove all smartphone distractions while driving. This is about delivering more control at the wheel, not less. Some drivers are immune to the activity of their smartphone, but for those who struggle to ignore the beeps and pings, this concept provides a simple solution in this very ‘connected’ world we live in.’

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: ‘Our research shows that handheld phone use by drivers has reached epidemic proportions. As mobile phone technology has advanced significantly many people have become addicted to them. However, the use of a handheld phone when driving represents both a physical and mental distraction and it has been illegal since 2003.’

‘The Nissan Signal Shield is a good example of a technology that can help drivers be phone smart. For those who can’t avoid the temptation, this simple but pretty clever tech gives them a valuable mobile-free zone. We are asking all drivers to make a personal commitment not to use a handheld phone at the wheel by visiting and sharing their promise with their friends and family.’