Smartphones have become increasingly popular in the past ten years. According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of Americans now own a smartphone, which is more than double the ownership rate from five years ago. Smartphones can do so much more nowadays than make phone calls and send text messages. They can be used to surf the internet, check email, check social media, take photos or videos, and -- via one of the many apps available -- pretty much anything else.
Unfortunately, one of the things that many smartphone users do is use their phones while they are driving. Distracted driving has become an increasing problem in recent years. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), eight people die every day because of distracted driving and about 1000 are injured. Not only are people, in particular teens, texting and talking on the phone while driving, they are also using various social media apps while behind the wheel. Just last year, an 18-year old caused a crash because she was using Snapchat and attempting to reach a high speed for a Snap. Another accident occurred when a man crashed into a cop car because he was playing the Pokemon Go.
Many states already have laws that forbid texting and driving and several have laws that prohibit drivers from using hand-held devices. Determining if a person has been using their phone while driving can be time-consuming. If it suspected that a driver was on their phone while operating their vehicle, law enforcement officers must get a warrant to obtain the driver's cell phone records. This can take time and resources and may "[limit] the likelihood of investigation." Legislators in New York have come up with a new idea to quickly determine if a driver has been using their cell phone. The device would be called the "Textalyzer" and operate by allowing law enforcement to "tap into the operating system [of the phone] to check for recent activity." Similar to how suspected drunk drivers can lose their license for refusing to take a breath test, a driver who refused to give up their phone would also face license suspension.
Implementing the use of a Textalyzer device would require addressing concerns over privacy. The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in New York stated that "It really invites police to seize phones without justification or warrant." In addition, the current reason that lawmakers have to get a warrant comes from a Supreme Court decision where the unanimously decided "that the police could not search a cellphone without a warrant, even after an arrest." Lawmakers contend that they have "based the Textalyzer concept on the same 'implied consent' legal theory that allows the police to use the Breathalyzer: When drivers obtain a license, they are consenting in advance to a Breathalyzer, or else they will risk the suspension of their license."
There is no current working Textalyzer device and whether or not one is created in the future remains to be seen. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident because of a distracted driver, contact the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal today.