Even though most states, including New York, have laws that prohibit texting while driving, people still do it - thereby putting themselves and everyone else on the road at risk. The situation is made even worse by the fact that it is often difficult for police to enforce the laws already on the books.
However, if New York lawmakers pass legislation that was introduced earlier this year, police in the Empire State may have a new tool for fighting distracted driving - the Textalyzer.
What is the Textalyzer?
Conceptually similar to a Breathalyzer, the Textalyzer is a device that police can use to determine whether a driver was illegally using his or her cellphone while behind the wheel. Essentially, if the legislation is passed and becomes law, police would be able to scan a driver's phone using the Textalyzer and find out if he or she was texting or otherwise using his or her phone illegally.
Under the language of the proposed bill - otherwise known as Senate Bill 6325A - drivers would be deemed under the law to have already given consent to having their phones tested and scanned if they are involved in a car accident while operating a vehicle in New York. This is quite similar to the state's drunk driving implied consent law.
While this scan would not give officers access to the actual content of the communications nor their origins, many believe there are serious privacy concerns with this proposed legislation. However, despite these concerns, this legislation did pass a New York Transportation Committee vote by a wide margin, although it has been some time since lawmakers have directly addressed the bill.
While it remains to be seen whether this legislation will ever become law, one thing is clear: many careless drivers will continue to text while behind the wheel. If you or a loved one has been injured by one of these distracted drivers, you need to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible after seeking medical attention.