Latest: Cell phones help reduce traffic accidents!

Nissan ITS aims to prevent accidents by detecting cell phones via GPS.

Kevin Massy
Car repellent: Just don't call it a phone CNET Networks

We've heard plenty of stories recently about how cell phones can visit all manner of disasters on the human race, from rendering us infertile to burning our houses down, not to mention the death and destruction that they wreak on the roads.

So it's about time we got a good-news story about the world's favorite gadget. Nissan announced today that it is working on a program that will enable cell phones to communicate with its cars to reduce the risk of pedestrians being knocked down. Nissan's Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) uses 3G cellular communications networks to collect GPS data on the position of mobile-phone wielding pedestrians in relation to cars on the road. If the system detects that a pedestrian is directly in the path of a vehicle, it will alert the driver of a potential accident by activating a visual or audible warning in the cabin.

The pedestrian-location system is part of a wider trial of new technologies that Nissan is conducting in partnership with Japanese wireless company NTT Docomo in Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo, so don't expect it to be available on your next Sentra. If the technology does make it to production, however, it raises some interesting questions about the idea of banning gadgets in order to protect pedestrians from traffic accidents.