A New Tool For Fighting Accidents Caused By Texting And Driving
Do you text and drive? Although a majority of people are completely aware of just how dangerous this is, 75% of drivers with a cell phone who text on a regular basis state that they have texted while they were driving. If you are one of those individuals who text while you drive, you need to be careful. Police officers all over the country are using a new tool that informs them of who has been texting while they were driving. You may need to consult with a drunk driving defense attorney who may be able to help you with this problem.Over 100,000 car crashes in Texas involve distracted driving, and 78% of these involve texting. So whether it involves reading a text while at a red light or sending a text while you are out on the road, it has been shown by studies that driving and texting can be worse actually than drinking and driving or driving under the influence of drugs. Lawmakers in New York State are actually proposing something that is called “textalyzer.” The tool would let police offers scan a driver’s phone to see if had been in use when the crash occurred. Just like a breathalyzer test measures the blood-alcohol level of a driver, this technology would allow police to see if there was distracted driving occurred when the accident happened.
If a police officer wants to inspect a cell phone currently to determine whether or not it was used during a crash, the driver’s cell phone records must be subpoenaed. A warrant must be obtained, which is often a time-consuming and difficult process. Using a “textalyzer,” by contrast, would allow police officers to scan the phone instantly. The technology would not allow law enforcement to look at the messages’ content, just data on when and how the phone was used at the time of a crash.
However, privacy advocates see how using a device like a textalyzer could potentially cause conflicts.
Rashida Richardson, who is legislative counsel for the New York Civil Liberties Union, says that although distracted driving is definitely a very serious matter to be concerned about, the bill will provide power to the police to take and search phone after even a fender-bender. And given the fact that some of the people’s most personal and private information is contained on their phones, if it was enforced the organization believes the law would be in violation of civil liberties as well as in violation of people’s privacy rights.
Lawmakers in New York are hoping to move forward on the “textalyzer” by being able to operate under implied consent, meaning that obtaining a license, includes a drive agreeing to have his or her cell phone searched to see if there were signs of use in the event there are involved in an accident.
Texas is one of only a few states without a statewide law against texting while driving. However, it will have one soon. Ordinances in the state of Texas have been passed in more than 90 cities against using cell phones while driving. If you were to be caught, it could cost from $200 up to $500. Both the Texas House and Senate have passed similar bills where texting and driving is banned statewide. Legislators are being called on by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick for this to be brought to a vote. A driver would be fined under Bill HB 62 for the first texting and driving offense. It allows a jurisdiction to create local ordinances of their own or add additional charges, such as Austin’s hands-free initiative, where you could be fined up to $500 if you are holding a cell phone in your hand while driving.
If the “textalyzer” were to become law in New York, other states could end up following with their own legislation. The technology surrounding these concepts is in development still.