As much as we would like not to admit it, distracted driving is on the rise, as our increasing reliance on smartphones makes it more and more tempting to check on texts and notifications whilst behind the wheel. Nissan is looking to put an end to this behaviour by developing a new armrest concept dubbed the Nissan Signal Shield, which blocks all signals when a phone is placed in the storage compartment within.

The compartment is lined with a wire mesh to create a Faraday cage, a Victoria-era invention that blocks electromagnetic signals such as cellular, WiFi and Bluetooth connections. As such, once a mobile device is placed in the armrest and the lid closed, the Signal Shield creates a “silent zone” that removes distractions while driving, which Nissan calls a “digital detox.”

Nissan says that despite the phone being shrouded from incoming signals, users can still listen to music or podcasts using a USB or auxiliary audio connection. Wireless connection is restored by opening the armrest lid, enabling the phone to reconnect with the car’s Bluetooth system.

The concept is aimed at providing drivers with the option of eliminating distractions caused by the millions of text messages, social media notifications and app alerts pushed to smartphones each day. The British automotive services company RAC says that the number of drivers admitting to using their phones in the car has jumped from just 8% in 2014 to a staggering 31% last year.


That figure has been backed up by Nissan’s own research, which stated that almost one in five drivers (18%) admitted to having texted behind the wheel. “The Nissan Signal Shield concept presents one possible solution for giving drivers the choice to remove all smartphone distractions while driving,” said Nissan Motor GB managing director Alex Smith.

“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.”

Road safety spokesman for RAC Pete Williams said, “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.”