Every state in the country has at least one law in place restricting drivers from texting and driving due to the inherent dangers. Yet despite it being illegal and dangerous, multitasking behind the wheel remains common, resulting in pricey fines and fewer low-cost auto insurance options for those ticketed by police officers.
“The textalyzer can tell if motorists were distracted at the time of their accidents.”
With so many drivers disregarding distracted driving laws, some states are considering the use of technology to combat distracted driving. Consider New York, where lawmakers are debating giving enforcement officials the green light to use a tool that can determine if motorists were operating their vehicles while on their phones in the moments prior to accidents. Widely described as the “textalyzer,” the device is similar to the breathalyzer that police use to find out if drivers are operating under the influence.
The only difference, of course, is instead of analyzing blood-alcohol content, the gadget can establish if drivers were using their smartphones before colliding with another vehicle. Legislators and anti-distracted driving advocates believe the state-of-the-art tool has the potential to save lives by deterring motorists from texting or dialing.
Marge Lee, a Long Island resident affiliated with the non-profit group DEDICATEDD, told News 12 traffic patrol needs all available resources to keep the roads safer for everyone.
“You should be paying attention, you should be abiding by the law, and if you are not, we need to give law enforcement every opportunity to protect us,” Lee explained. “Driving is not a right it is a privilege, so if you want that privilege you have to abide by certain things.”
3,477 killed by distracted driving in 2015
The dangers of texting and driving are beyond dispute. In 2015, the latest year for which data is available, 3,477 people were killed due to traffic crashes in which driving distracted was to blame, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Additionally, more than 391,000 people were hurt or severely injured two years ago as a result of auto accidents stemming from multitasking.
Statisticians have quantified the risks of the activity, including researchers from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, who found distracted drivers are 20 times more likely to be involved in crashes compared to motorists paying attention to where they’re going.
“Some believe stronger enforcement measures are excessively invasive.”
Does the textalyzer go too far? Rights advocates think so
Even though concerned motorists and regulators are staunchly in favor of the advanced enforcement measure, privacy advocates are crying foul. Donna Lieberman, executive director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, told The Associated Press that the textalyzer is a slippery slope, one that could lead to other, more advanced measures that spurn the right to privacy.
“Every fender bender would become a pretense for gobbling up people’s private cell phone information,” Lieberman warned. “[After all], we know that cell phones typically contain our entire lives.”
But Deborah Hersman, CEO for the National Safety Council, which is a proponent of making distracted driving a nationwide ban, told the AP that the social benefits of the device outweigh the negatives, real or perceived.
“There can’t be a more compelling reason than life or death for saying why we should have access to this information,” Hersman said.
The Empire State isn’t the only place where more advanced distracted driving enforcement is being considered. Others include Tennessee, New Jersey, and Chicago, Illinois’ most populated city and one of the busiest traffic areas in the country.
It’s not just state legislators who are looking to put a stop to texting while driving – check out these 4 car companies who are putting a dent in distracted driving.
This article is intended for informational purposes only. It does not replace or modify the information contained in your insurance policy.