The almost universal ownership of smartphones has greatly increased the problem of distracted driving. Texting and driving, in particular, has become a serious problem in Louisiana and around the country.
Texting while driving is illegal in most states, but many people continue to do it. As distracted driving becomes more prevalent, highway fatalities are going up. In 2015, they jumped 8 percent from the previous year.
Many people believe texting and driving is, at least, as serious an issue as drunk driving. In fact, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving helped form a new organization, Partnership for Distraction-Free Driving. This organization is trying to get social media companies involved in a campaign to get drivers to stop multitasking behind the wheel.
In New York, state legislators are considering an even more radical approach: a law that would equip police officers with a new gadget called the Textalyzer. An officer responding to a car accident could ask all drivers to hand over their phones. Using the Textalyzer, the officer could then check whether a driver was texting at the time of the crash. A refusal to hand over a phone would be treated like refusing a breath test in a drunk driving case: the driver would have their license suspended, under an implied consent provision in the proposed law.
Whether the Textalyzer will come into use in Louisiana remains to be seen. If it does, a person injured by a distracted driver could have a compelling source of evidence to prove liability in a personal injury case.
Source: The New York Times, "Texting and Driving? Watch Out for the Textalyzer," Matt Richtel, April 27, 2016