You may not realize it, but April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a time set aside each year to raise awareness about one of the most pressing safety issues on our nation’s roads and highways.
If you don’t believe it’s a problem, consider that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that an astounding 1,153+ people are injured and another nine people are killed in distracted driving-related accidents here in the U.S. every day.
In recognition of the need to combat this growing danger, many states have enacted laws designed to prevent motorists from using their cellphones behind the wheel.
For example, texting while driving is a secondary offense here in Florida, meaning a motorist can be issued a citation if they are pulled over for a primary offense (i.e., speeding, running a stop sign, etc.) and were also observed engaging in this dangerous behavior.
Interestingly enough, lawmakers in New York are currently considering a measure that, if passed, would take distracted driving enforcement to a whole new level.
Specifically, the New York Senate Transportation Committee is considering a bill that would permit law enforcement officials to use roadside technology known as a “textalyzer” in the wake of an accident.
In general, a textalyzer is a device capable of determining whether cellphones secured from a crash site were used to either talk or text prior to the accident. The technology is currently being perfected by an Israeli company that many are saying helped the FBI break into the encrypted iPhone at the center of the heated dispute with Apple.
Under the proposed legislation, the state’s implied consent law, which currently grants law enforcement authority to use Breathalyzers, would be amended to permit use of the textalyzers.
As for the important issue of the Fourth Amendment right to privacy, textalyzers are evidently designed only to examine cellphone use, leaving texts, conversations, photos, etc., private. Furthermore, supporters indicate that any further law enforcement inquiries, such as determining whether the phone was used in conjunction with hands-free technology or confirming the findings of the textalyzer, would necessitate a warrant.
What are your thoughts on this proposed textalyzer law? Do you think it’s necessary given the extent of the nation’s distracted driving problem or do you think it’s an invasion of privacy?
If you’ve been seriously injured in a distracted driving crash caused by another motorist, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.