If New York legislators get their way, law enforcement will soon be armed with new technology in the fight against distracted driving. A bill which has been proposed by New York State Senator Terrence Murphy (R) and Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz (D) would allow for the use of “textalyzers” at the scene of a car accident. The device, a scanner, would reveal whether a driver was texting at the time of an accident.
Civil liberties advocates have argued against the measure on the grounds that law enforcement could glean personal information from cell phones beyond the question of whether or not texting contributed to an accident. However, according to supporters of the legislation, mechanisms will be in place to prevent police from violating an individual’s privacy.
Distracted driving remains a serious problem on American roadways despite extensive outreach from organizations like the National Safety Council (NSC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In 2013, the NSC maintains that six percent of all car accidents involved the sending and receiving of text messages. Evidence by the NHTSA which states that the number of drivers engaging in texting and driving continues to rise includes that in 2014, 2.2 percent of drivers were cited for visibly texting, compared to 1.7 percent of drivers cited for the same infraction in 2013.
Texting and Driving Stats Called into Question
Moreover, the statistics surrounding texting and driving may be inaccurate. Until now, except for a driver’s admission of cell phone use or a court order compelling cell phone records, law enforcement has been largely unable to prove if and when texting was to blame for a collision.
Additionally, when a driver is intoxicated or speeding, law enforcement will often fail to investigate the possibility that the driver was also texting when they crashed according to the NSC. Accordingly, because incidents of driving and texting could be vastly underreported, Cherry Hill car accident lawyers say that the New York legislation could mark a real turning point.