While many states have passed laws to completely ban texting or even talking on your mobile phone while driving, because of our increasing reliance on electronic devices, the problem has only gotten worse.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there has been a shocking 51% increase in cell phone related crashes between 2010-2013.
While crash statistics continue to rise, many law enforcement officers and safety enforcement personnel continue to struggle with how to address this life-threatening problem.
The Social Trend that Needs to Change
In recent surveys conducted within the United States, many drivers not only confess to texting while driving but also doing many others things. Texting, Facebook, Snapchat and similar social media apps are also taking drivers’ eyes off the road.
While law enforcement officers are calling for stricter enforcement of laws and greater punishments for drivers, others are trying a strategy that worked before on a previous driving problem, drunk driving. Harvard is trying a strategy which has already proven effective before with drunk driving, using social media companies to help push the message that using your mobile phone while driving is simply not ok. The strategy worked well in the 1980’s and 1990’s, with liquor companies urging drinkers to drink responsibly and not drink and drive.
A Revolutionary Idea Has Been Put Forward
Another strategy, which has been thrown into the mix by the lawmakers in New York is to issue all law enforcement officers with a recently released device, a Textalyzer. The Textalyzer is a hand-held device, similar in fashion to a Breathalyzer that allows police officers arriving on the scene of a motor vehicle accident tap into a driver’s mobile phone’s operating system, allowing them to see if any texts, emails or social media apps had been used during the time of the accident.
If a driver refused to hand over their mobile phone or device, they would face similar charges for what a driver refusing a breathalyzer would; suspension of their license, fines and points, depending on the state’s laws.
The proposed Textalyzer and changes to the laws to make it legal to use are still facing challenges, however. Many people are worried about how the new laws could affect their personal privacy and it is still unclear if officers would need to request a warrant before seizing any mobile phones. The following video explores some of the questions regarding the topic of privacy.
Could Insurance Rates Be Affected by the Textalyzer?
Like any other driving offense, being caught driving while texting, or using a mobile device could very well have a serious impact on your insurance. Every insurance company operates differently, but in most cases having any driving offense on your record will have a direct impact on how much you are charged for insurance.
However, every state has their own laws, so getting caught using your cell phone state might impact your driving record significantly, while getting caught in another have no impact at all.
New York for example has very strict penalties for cell phone users. A first offense could result in you receiving five violation points on your license, which would directly affect your insurance rates; a 120-day suspension of your license; and a fine as high as $200, according to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. On the other hand, in South Carolina the offense could be as low as $25 and carries no threat of points being added onto your license.
In the end, depending on what state you live in and how your insurance company reacts to cell phone tickets will determine whether or not Textalyzers will impact your insurance rates.
One thing is clear, though. If this new technology is embraced and you are involved in an accident, it will play an important part of determining whether you were using your phone at the time of the accident.