As part of a 2015 distracted driver survey, the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety collected direct observations of distracted driving behavior. In this survey they found that 29.13% of drivers would be considered a distracted driver, citing rear passenger interaction as the biggest distraction to drivers, right ahead of both cell phone handling and cell phone conversations.
Seeing as how distracted driving is becoming more and more common, changes may be coming, and it appears to be making it’s start in New York state.
Pushed by the lobbyist group Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs), a New York State Senate committee is considering a bill that would help police officers determine if a driver had been using smartphones near the time of a collision. The bill is known as “Evan’s Law” and would provide law enforcement with a “Textalyzer,” a device that an officer can plug into a smartphone and instantaneously find out if the driver’s phone had been used to text, surf the web, or make a call around the time of the accident. No warrant would be required of the police officer and it has been proposed that if the driver refuses to hand over their smartphone, their driving privileges can be severely affected.
In this statement from DORC’s co-founder, Ben Lieberman stated that ”The general public knows distracted driving is a problem, but if people knew the extent of the damage caused by this behavior, they would be amazed. With our current laws, we're not getting accurate information because the issue is not being addressed at the heart of the problem—with the people causing the collisions."
Now many of those opposed to the product have argued that the device’s actions would be a major breach of privacy, which is true if the driver’s text histories and app usage would be downloaded and stored. However, the company developing the “Textalyzer” will only show the officer whether or not the phone was in use, without revealing private information or data.
The company behind this product, Cellebrite, is a leader in mobile device forensics solutions and is no stranger to creating products for law enforcement. Jim Grady, CEO of Cellebrite, stated "Cellebrite has been leading the adoption of field mobile forensics solutions by law enforcement for years...We look forward to supporting DORCs and law enforcement—both in New York and nationally—to curb distracted driving."
What are your opinions about the “Textalyzer” and how effective do you think it will be? Leave a comment below to let us know what you think!