In the last seven years, many states implemented campaigns to dissuade distracted drivers – particularly drivers who text and use social media behind the wheel. But according to research, Americans are still willing to risk their safety and the safety of others by using Facebook, texting, talking on the phone, and taking selfies while they drive. In fact, some believe hand-held technology is responsible for a recent reversal in declining road fatalities, which rose eight percent in 2015 after a marked downturn in previous years.
Mark Rosekind, chief of the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), said the increase is probably the result of two factors: more people are driving and people are driving distracted. In a recent speech, Rosekind said, “Radical change requires radical ideas,” speaking to the immediate need to improve on-the-road safety across the United States.
New York’s “Radical” Solution to Distracted Driving
One idea, proposed by lawmakers in New York, would allow law enforcement to analyze drivers’ recent cellphone usage through a device called a “Textalyzer.” Similar to a breathalyzer, which helps police determine if a person was drinking and driving, the Textalyzer would show officers recent activity on mobile devices – including phone conversations, email, social media use, and texting.
While opponents of the Textalyzer might consider it an invasion of privacy, the Textalyzer simply aims to treat distracted drivers like drunk drivers. Drivers who refuse to submit their phones for testing would even face consequences similar to the penalties for refusing to take a breath test.
“We need something on the books where people’s behavior can change,” said Democratic assemblyman Flix W. Ortiz. “People are going to be more afraid to put their hands on the cellphone.” Should the Textalyzer bill pass, New York would be the first state to pass anything like it.
Candace Lightner, who founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving, likened the recent pushback against distracted driving to the anti-DUI movement in the 1980s. “[Distracted driving] is not being treated as seriously as drunken driving, and it needs to be,” she told news sources. “It’s dangerous, devastating, crippling, and it’s a killer, and it’s still socially acceptable.”
What Victims of Distracted Driving Accidents Can Do Now
According to Distraction.gov, the official United States Government Website for distracted driving, 3,179 people died in distraction-related car accidents in 2014. In recent years, this number continued to climb in spite of local and nationwide efforts to end behind-the-wheel cellphone use.
While these accidents, injuries, and fatalities are still a threat to the safety of American drivers, victims of distracted driving car accidents and their families have the right to seek compensation for their damages through personal injury claims and lawsuits. If you or someone you love suffered an injury in an accident caused by a distracted driver, we encourage you to contact us today and schedule your free legal consultation with a Las Vegas personal injury lawyer from Shook & Stone.