Introducing the Textalyzer: A New App to (Hopefully) Curb Texting While Driving
Drinking and driving is a dangerous activity that law enforcement tries to curb and track with its use of Breathalyzer devices. Texting and driving is also deadly, but it’s been hard to find ways to curb and track driver cell phone use. Now there’s an app that purports to do just that, it’s called Textalyzer. Like a Breathalyzer, it helps law enforcement identify illegal behavior when a car has been pulled over.
Textalyzer usage has been proposed by New York lawmakers to identify anyone who breaks the hands-free driving law. Police officers would use the Textalyzer app to access the operating system of the driver’s phone, to determine if any texts, email or Internet activity has taken place while the person was driving. This app would be especially useful in determining accident causation because the police officer would be able to identify or rule out distracted driving as a contributing factor.
If the person refuses to provide law enforcement with access to his or her phone, the driver could face punishment up to and including license suspension. Opponents of the app point to a myriad of privacy concerns, such as whether police officers should have the right to monitor/access activity on a personal cell phone without a court order.
The Textalyzer app may sound like a radical idea, but lawmakers are determined to curb texting while driving. New York has tried other ways to reduce texting behind the wheel, such as creating rest stops where drivers can pull over to make calls and send text messages. So far, these efforts have done very little to reduce drivers’ dangerous texting practices.
The problem of distracted driving appears to be getting worse, not better. In a recent survey, Americans confess to texting, using social media and taking selfies while driving. Road fatalities on U.S. Highways increased by 8% in 2015. Many believe this increase is partially attributable to distracted driving.
If New York adopts the Textalyzer app, it’s possible other states will follow. New York lawmakers hope that the app, coupled with associated suspensions and fines, will curb drivers’ phone usage.