Beware the Textalyzer

April was National Distracted Driving Month and, as a result, many organizations were aimed at reducing distraction-related traffic incidents.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that the average text will take the driver’s eyes off the road long enough for the car to travel the entire length of a football field at highway speeds.  Further, according to the CDC, more than 8 people are killed by distracted drivers each day in the U.S.

In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in car crashes involving distracted drivers.  In 2015, there was a sharp increase in distracted driving deaths.  According to NHTSA, drivers in their 20s are 38% of all distracted drivers who were using cell phones in fatal crashes. 

New York Senator Terrence Murphy has sponsored a bill that would call for new technology – “textalyzer” technology.  According to ABC News, the technology would be used immediately following a collision.  It would be able to report whether a driver was distracted by a phone at the time of the crash. 

Much like a breathalyzer test, if the driver refused to comply, he/she would risk losing his/her driver’s license.  The specific proposal indicates that while the technology would access personal cell phones, it would not provide access to photographs, messaging, contacts, or other personal and private data.

The group Distracted Operators Risk Casualties was involved in drafting the bill.  The co-founder of the bill, Ben Lieberman, lost his son when he was killed by a distracted driver in 2011.  Fittingly, the bill has been titled “Evan’s Law” to honor Lieberman’s late son, Evan.

Breathalyzer testing has been known to not only curb drinking and driving, but also to serve as evidence of breaking the law.  Currently, it is very difficult for law enforcement officials to determine if distracted driving played a role in a crash unless there is an admission from the at-fault driver.  The proposed legislation would be a step towards changing that.

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