A look at one of the more extreme ideas to combat technology-related driving
Because “radical change requires radical ideas,” according
to the chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),
officials are making a move to start treating texting while driving on
par with drunk driving. Legislators and public health officials across
the country are racking their brains, trying to figure out the most effective
way to reduce distracted driving incidents and fatalities.
Perhaps the most extreme idea comes from The Empire State. In New York,
lawmakers have suggested introducing something called the
textalyzer, which is, you guessed it, a breathalyzer test for texting. Just as officers
who pull people over for suspected drunk driving can administer breathalyzer
tests, officers would be able to pull suspected texting drivers over and
use a device to tap into their phone’s operating system to check
for recent activity.
The phone testing device would search the phone to detect any activity
that would be illegal for drivers under state law, including texting and
Refuse a textalyzer test? New York lawmakers want the penalty to mirror
that of refusal to take a breathalyzer test – automatic license
suspension. You can
read more about the proposed legislation on the New York State Senate’s website.
The main opponents of laws like these are privacy advocates, who are concerned
that textalyzer tests would constitute a violation of their Fourth Amendment
right to be free from unlawful search and seizure. But officials are desperate,
and seem as if they will do almost anything to mitigate distracted driving deaths.
Anti-texting advocates aren’t just stick wielders. Some prefer carrots,
and believe that promoting attentive driving would be more effective than
penalizing distracted driving. For example, the Center for Health Communication
at Harvard’s School of Public Health is developing an ad campaign
that will focus on attentiveness behind the wheel, and encourage parents
to set a good example for their children.
Still, texting while driving is a dangerous game not played for long. According
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, distracted driving
kills an average of eight people and injures over 1,000 others daily.
In fact, your chances of being involved in a distracted driving collision
is one in four. The statistics for drunk driving are even more troubling
– an average of 28 people are killed in the U.S. every day due to
an alcohol-impaired driver.
The common hope for those on both sides of the textalyzer debate is that,
just like drunk driving fatalities, texting while driving fatalities would subside.