Distracted driving is a leading cause of automobile accidents and can put your life at risk on the road. Despite laws banning cell phone usage behind the wheel, texting while driving has quickly become one of the top causes of distracted driving.
Thus far, texting laws have been difficult to enforce. However, that could all be changing soon. New York lawmakers are pushing a new bill that would treat distracted driving similar to drunk driving.
The bill would require police officers to use what is being referred to as a “Textalyzer,” a device not unlike a Breathalyzer. The Textalyzer would give officers the right to scan a driver’s phone to determine if it had recently been used. If the driver refused to hand over the phone, he or she could have their license suspended for up to a year – the same penalty for refusing a Breathalyzer test.
The bill has raised privacy concerns among many, as it would allow for officers to take a driver’s phone without reason or warrant. As of now, obtaining phone related information requires officers to subpoena records from the phone company or request a search warrant to view a phone’s contents. Felix Ortiz, an assemblyman and sponsor of the Textalyzer bill said the device would not give police access to any specific information in the phone, but only show if there had been phone activity. Without serious legal consequences, Ortiz believes drivers’ behavior will not change.
Currently, 14 states prohibit the use of handheld devices while driving and 44 states prohibit texting while driving. In addition, there have been numerous campaigns aimed at educating the public about the dangers of texting and driving. Despite all this, drivers are continuing to use their phones on the road. In 2014, there were 3,179 distraction-related traffic fatalities – and that number only accounts for those who admitted to distracted driving. Because many drivers deny any distraction at the time of an accident, many incidents go unreported.
Candace Lightner, founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and co-founder of Partnership for Distraction-Free Driving shared her thoughts on distracted driving, “It’s not being treated as seriously as drunk driving, and it needs to be. It’s dangerous, devastating, crippling, and still socially acceptable.” Distraction-free driving is difficult and requires an incredible amount of self-control, especially in today’s technologically driven world. But it is possible and there are ways to improve your focus while driving. It could save your life, and the lives around you.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an automobile accident due to distracted driving, please contact us or call us at 800-676-5295 and our experienced attorneys can help answer your questions.