Only time will tell if a new controversial idea, first proposed in New York but not yet made into law, could help curb distracted driving. It’s a device called the Textalyzer and much like its cousin the Breathalyzer, which allows police to know if you’ve been driving under the influence of alcohol, the Textalyzer would allow police to scan your cell phone to determine if you’ve been driving while using your phone in any way deemed illegal in your particular state.
Much like a breathalyzer test, refusal to submit to a Textalyzer could come with penalties such as license suspension, if the law passes.
But before you begin imagining a scenario in which police are reading your texts and e-mails, drivers should know that the Textalyzer doesn’t grant police access to your personal information—it just allows them know whether or not you were using your phone while driving and how i.e. texting, checking e-mail, etc. Still, the issue of privacy is one of the issues that stands in the way of the Textalyzer being passed into law.
Rising concern over distracted driving
The Textalyzer is just one idea proposed for combating distracted driving as concern mounts following recent data that shows a rise in driver fatalities and a study that reveals an increase in phone use while driving.
Preliminary findings from the National Safety Council (NSC) shows an 8% increase in motor vehicle deaths from 2014 to 2015—the largest year-over-year percent increase in 50 years. According to the council, with an estimated 38,300 people killed and 4.4 million seriously injured on U.S. roads, 2015 was likely the deadliest driving year since 2008.
Although a better economy and lower unemployment rate were cited as some of the reasons for the decline in safety, distracted driving, and particularly cell phone use while driving, is getting worse despite attempts to crack down on the dangerous behavior.
According to new research from AT&T—as part of their “It Can’t Wait” campaign against distracted driving—cell phone use while driving has grown from talking and texting to checking social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, web surfing, taking selfies, and, perhaps the most alarming, video chatting.
Minnesota distracted driving laws
Distracted driving plays a role in a minimum of 70 deaths and 350 serious injuries (one in four crashes) per year in Minnesota, according to the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). So whether the Textalyzer becomes a reality or not, it’s high time everyone start to take their responsibility as a driver more seriously.
And if doing it for your own safety isn’t enough, just consider the penalty: A violation of Minnesota’s anti-texting law can come with a fine of up to $300, for example.
For Minnesotans needing a refresher, here are our distracted driving laws straight from OTS:
It is illegal for drivers of all ages to compose, read, or send electronic messages or access the Internet on a wireless device when the vehicle is in motion or part of traffic. This includes being stopped in traffic or at a light. (The law does not apply to devices that are permanently affixed to the vehicle or global positioning or navigation systems.)
It is illegal for drivers under age 18 to use a cell phone, whether hand-held or hands-free—except to call 911 in an emergency.
Cell phone use is totally banned for school bus drivers.
Distracted drivers can be ticketed for reckless or careless driving when their actions demonstrate a disregard for the safety or rights of others.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, it is very important to see a doctor immediately to document your injuries in a medical record. Then, contact Meshbesher & Spence for a consultation with our personal injury attorneys—our attorneys are available to visit you in the hospital or in your home as well as in our offices. Our compassionate lawyers will help you determine if you will be able to recover damages for your injuries.
Learn more about the danger of distracted driving:
How to say “no” to distracted driving.
Techniques for staying off your phone while driving.
The danger of selfies.