With road fatalities up 8% from the previous year, New York is taking a new approach to prevent distracted driving. A recent article in the New York Times discusses the idea of the Textalyzer and New York’s proposed legislation to increase enforcement of distracted driving. The Textalyzer is is the “digital equivalent of a Breathalyzer.” After a police officer arrived at the scene of a crash, the Textalyzer could be used to check a phone for recent activity. Many proponents argue the Textalyzer would provide the perfect stick for a carrot and stick approach to distracted driving. While there are active and proposed campaigns to discourage distracted driving, the Textalyzer will enhance the police’s ability to enforce legislation. Opponents, on the other hand, argue it invites unwarranted seizure of phones. A Supreme Court Decision in 2014 ruled phones cannot be searched even in the event of an arrest. Those in support of the Bill claim the Textalyzer will not allow access to the content of emails or texts on the phone and relies on the theory of “implied consent” used for Breathalyzers. Knowing that distracted driving is as dangerous as drunk driving, do you support the Bill? In your opinion, will this “stick” actually decrease texting and driving?
The Textalyzer is not something we discussed while in Detroit. However, this topic does concern autonomous vehicles. A large portion of drivers, according to UMTRI, desire autonomous vehicles for their ability to concentrate on other tasks rather than driving. If Textalyzers were to become common, people may desire autonomous vehicles more, allowing them to text without the threat of consequences from distracted driving. Read my comments on autonomous vehicles here.