Mathematician calculates formula to catch texting drivers

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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s applied physics group manager says he thinks he’s discovered a mathematical formula that can predict whether or not a cellphone user sending a text message is doing it from behind the wheel of a moving car. The applied physics group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory focuses on quantifying qualities that aren’t easy to discern, such as the variation in texting patterns that appears when the person sending the text is driving an automobile. The group examined the behavior of six subjects sending text messages over 10,000 keystrokes and determined a predictable pattern. When they required these subjects to send text messages while operating a driving simulation program, the group predicted they would be able to determine the circumstances of the text message’s composition from the difference in texting behavior. Text message senders tend to alternate between looking at the road and looking at their cellphone screens, causing a delay between keystrokes and disruption of their common texting patterns.

 According to the group manager, who is currently attempting to get a patent for the algorithm, the calculation method could easily be used to create an application for cellphones.

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