Social Media and technology play an extremely important role in our society. Even here at Christensen & Hymas, we use of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, texting, email, and other outlets daily to better inform our clients and connect with the community. With so many things competing for our attention, social media and technology can certainly be a distraction. These resources have their designated time and place. However, the road is not it! Thousands of distracted driving phone accidents occur every year, and many deaths come as a result.
Distracted Driving in Utah
Utah is certainly no exception to this unfortunate truth. In 2016 alone, 280 traffic related deaths occurred in Utah, with 21 (7.5%) of those deaths coming as a result of distracted driving phone accidents.
In 2017, already 90 traffic related deaths have occurred, with several likely due to distracted driving.
Interestingly, this continues to happen frequently even with texting and driving being made illegal in the state of Utah. Here are the typical punishments one can face if caught driving distracted with a cell phone:
- Texting while driving alone is punishable by a $750 fine and up to 90 days in jail.
- If an injury is caused to another person in distracted driving phone accidents, up to a $1000 fine and 6 months in jail may be enforced.
- If another person is killed, the fine can be as much as $10,000 and up to 15 years in jail.
Clearly the punishments for distracted driving phone accidents are severe, yet Utah drivers and many nationwide are still choosing to drive distracted. How can this be prevented further? New York may have an answer in the “Textalyzer”.
Information courtesy of the Utah Department of Public Safety.
What is the Textalyzer?
New York native Ben Lieberman lost his son to a distracted driving phone accident several years ago. Naturally, he wanted to find a way to hold people accountable for driving while using a cell phone, something that has proved difficult to accomplish.
Mr. Lieberman and Cellebrite Inc. have come up with is a system called the “Textalyzer”. Essentially, this device seeks to serve the same purpose as the Breathalyzer that police officers use to detect whether drivers in an accident were drinking and driving.
As CNN journalist Kelly Wallace explains the process, police officers would “connect a person’s phone to their laptop or other device and detect only the operating system logs, which would provide information about touchscreen use and whether someone was typing at the time of the crash” (CNN). If a driver refuses to turn over their phone, their license will be suspended. Whatever the result, the driver will likely be off the road. If not, however, they will likely be at least without a cell phone.
What is Stopping the Textalyzer?
Though it is a noble idea, implementation of the Textalyzer is facing some difficulties. New York is the only state thus far to introduce legislation to legalize the Textalyzer for official police use.
The main problem involves a host of privacy issues. People don’t want the police looking at their personal information, plain and simple. However, Mr. Lieberman insists that the Textalyzer will only check for usage, not content (CNN).
There is some consent involved, of course. A driver can certainly refuse to take Textalyzer test. However, a refusal simply results in the suspension of that driver’s license.
Though such a device will undoubtedly fail to end distracted driving phone accidents completely, it is certainly a step in the right direction not only for New York, but for Utah and all other states as well.
How Can You Prevent Distracted Driving Phone Accidents?
Sadly, even with such groundbreaking ideas being brought forward to minimize distracted driving phone accidents, cell phone use while driving remains a major problem that continues to cause many harmful accidents and take lives on Utah’s roads.
Above all else, we urge all Utah drivers to put down your cell phones while on the road. It can wait! The Textalyzer may be a helpful solution in the future, but until then we all need to first and foremost be accountable to ourselves and others that share the road. This action alone can save lives, including your own.
Unfortunately, we deal frequently with these types of accidents. If you are a loved one has been seriously injured in a distracted driving phone accident, let us fight to get you the compensation you deserve in order to make a full and speedy recovery.
Image 2 courtesy of author Pmox. The image is in the public domain.