Most of us have been there — you look down quickly, look up, try to type, delete an error, look up, jerk the steering wheel to straighten out a bit, then push “send” on your text. Your heart rate finally has a chance to settle.
Texting while driving is banned in all cases in 47 states, but chances are you've seen someone with their eyes on their lap instead of the road or even taking the nerve-wracking #drivingselfie.
Seriously, don't be this dude:
Three states have incomplete bans when it comes to texting and driving.
According to Independent Journal Review's survey of Distraction.gov, Missouri bans texting for drivers aged 21 and under while Montana has no current ban. Texas bans texting for novice drivers and bus drivers, as well as texting in school zones.
But lawmakers in New York are considering a bill that would make that state have some of the most stringent “distracted driving” laws in the nation.
A new bill called Evan's Law, named after a 19-year-old who died in a 2011 car crash, would allow police to use new “Textalyzer” technology — a play on the word “breathalyzer” which is used to measure a driver's alcohol levels — to check if a motorist involved in a collision had been illegally using their cell phone, reports Syracuse.com.
The man behind the bill, Evan's father, Ben Lieberman, proposes building an electronic device that can plug into a cellphone and inform police whether it was in use at the time of the crash. Theoretically, it would be designed not to look at or record personal or sensitive information.
Under current law, police have to apply for warrants to inspect a cell phone or its phone records, which takes time.
Lieberman argued to NPR:
“You know, it's not gonna have any embarrassing conversations, any embarrassing pictures. It's just gonna show text in, text out. I don't think that you have to surrender all your privacy rights to get this right.”
But there are a number of ways a driver can be using his phone that doesn't violate any laws like looking at a map or using voice-activated software.
But the culpability of distracted driving is likely much higher. When researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute put cameras in cars, they found that distracted drivers account for almost 70% of crashes.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has even taken to shaming drivers on Twitter who admit to texting while driving:
Enforcement of distracted driving laws can be difficult, especially because people likely underreport whether they were texting at the time of a collision.
But if the “Textalyzer” legislation passes in New York, it may point to the future of anti-distracted driving legislation across the country.
Until we all have cars that look like this, of course: