Prior to the widespread passage of state drunk driving laws, many drivers didn't give a second though to getting behind the wheel after having a few drinks. Even after the dangers of drinking and driving were well established, it wasn't until law enforcement officers began using Breathalyzer tests to quickly establish that a driver was intoxicated that drunk driving rates began to dramatically fall.
Fast forward to 2016 and the U.S. is currently experiencing what many consider to be a public safety crisis in the form of distracted driving. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prove just how pervasive the problem of distracted driving has become, with an average of 1,161 people suffering injuries and eight dying every day in crashes caused by distracted drivers.
It's widely believed that cellphones are largely to blame for the majority of these injuries and deaths and most states have passed laws that ban drivers from texting while driving. Additionally, several states, including New York, ban drivers from using hand-held cellphones. Still, a large percentage of drivers continue to text on and otherwise engage with and become distracted by their cellphones while driving.
New York State legislators are hopeful that the introduction of a bill know as Evan's Law will provide state law enforcement officers with a tool that is as powerful a combatant against distracted driving as a Breathylizer is against drunk driving.
If passed, the bill sanctions the use of a device known as a textalyzer by responding police officers. When plugged into a driver's cellphone, the device reports whether or not a driver was engaged with his or her cellphone prior to an accident. Textalyzer evidence could become crucial in both criminal and civil cases and could help thousands of people who suffer injuries and losses at the hands of distracted drivers recover compensation and damages.
Source: The Washington Post, "A proposed 'textalyzer' bill might give cops the right to access your cellphone," Karen Turner, April 13, 2016