Advertisement

(Shutterstock)Distracted driving is becoming a growing problem for law enforcement who want to keep dangerous drivers—who text on cellphones, or use other handheld devices while driving—off the road. NY lawmakers are promoting the idea of a “Textalyzer”—a device that could give police access to a driver’s phone history immediately after a traffic accident.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10 percent of all fatal car crashes were linked to some form of distracted driving in 2014, resulting in 520 non-occupant deaths.

Similar to a breathalyzer helping an officer determine if a driver is under the influence, the Textalyzer device could give police valuable information into whether or not an accident has been caused by distracted driving.

But, some experts have serious concerns, mostly related to privacy. A unanimous Supreme Court ruling affirmed police must obtain a warrant to search a cellphone even after an arrest, which could make the road for the NY bill treacherous. A similar case, Birchfield v. North Dakota, was argued this week to determine if a mandatory Breathalyzer test constitutes an illegal search, and a breach of the Fourth Amendment.

Penalties for distracted driving range from a $25 fine in South Carolina to $200 in other states, some even assessing points on the driver’s license. Fourteen states prohibit handheld devices, while 46 ban texting, according to the NY Times.

Whether or not a Textalyzer might be helping officers on roadside stops anytime soon, proponents say stricter penalties for, and enforcement of, distracted driving must be realized sooner than later.

Out of 32,675 fatalities in 2014, 10 percent were caused by distracted driving, or 3,179 deaths, according to the NHTSF report.

Advertisement
Advertisement