Just like a breathalyzer can tell law enforcement if a driver is under the influence of alcohol, police may soon have a new tool that can tell them if drivers are under the influence of another dangerous distraction.
Chicago is currently debating the issue of giving their police officers “textalyzer” tools that can tell them if a driver was using their cell phone. The states of Tennessee and New York are also considering using the technology, but Chicago is the first city to consider implementing it.
Of course, being distracted by cell phones is going to be a modern issue for drivers, but just how prevalent its becoming is alarming. Nearly 60% of teenagers admit to texting while driving, and according to experts, it’s to blame for the biggest spike in traffic related fatalities in 50 years.
At the helm of the push is a New York man named Ben Lieberman. His 19 year old son was killed in a distracted driving accident in 2011, and he’s fighting to make sure no other parent has to endure that same suffering. “More Americans will die from distracted driving,” he recently pointed out to a committee he was testifying before, “than from the Vietnam war.” Once you fully understand the problem, Lierberman said, you can start to create deterrents.
A textalyzer works in pretty simple fashion. It’s plugged in to a cell phone (which never leaves the driver’s hand) by an officer and displays an activity log of recent use. No contacts or other data is downloaded in the process.
The technology is still a long way from being officially adopted by any jurisdiction, as all that’s happened so far is Chicago’s Public Safety Committee asked the police to review the technology. But still, it’s good to see changes being made in the wake of a deadly epidemic.