Texting while driving can have seriously dangerous consequences. Taking your eyes off the road for just a few seconds while another driver abruptly stops in front of you, or runs a red light, causes an accident that could have been avoided.
It’s not just texting that people are doing behind the wheel; social media, websites and games are also distractions that millions of people engage in everyday while driving.
Big Brother Saves the Day
I sure hope you caught my sarcasm in that. I know our government has a huge job in making sure that we all are “safe”. But for some reason, the thousands of laws that are already on the books do anything but makes [some of] us feel safe.
Introducing the Textalyzer
If you’re suspected of drinking and driving a police officer will conduct a field sobriety test that usually includes a breathalyzer. For those who are unfamiliar with it, you breath into a machine which will determine if you’ve been drinking alcohol and how much you’ve had.
Now, there is a new test that, when hooked up to your phone, will determine whether you’ve been tapping, swiping or clicking your phone prior to a traffic accident.
What’s So Bad About That?
While it may sound like the answer to our prayers, my skepticism immediately kicked in. I’m a supporter of safety and security, but I am not one those people who would give up everything for it.
Here’s my main concerns:
1. Police have a lot of power in America
Ideally, we all want justice. In grade school, we learn that police enforce laws. And some of us learn, in the real world, there are quite a few bad apples who are above the law.
Will the textalyzer only be used when an accident has occurred, or just whenever an officer needs an excuse for why you were pulled over in the first place?
Is texting while driving going to become the new reason some people are unlawfully detained, beaten and/or killed in America? I hope not.
2. Is no one else in the car allowed to use your phone?
What if you’re like me and occasionally allow the passenger to send a text on your behalf? How exactly would this work? Will you still be accused of texting while driving?
3. Malfunctioning phones
My old Samsung Galaxy was a piece of sh*t. Excuse my language but it’s true. Sometimes the screen would look as if it were stuttering….going back and forth between screens and apps on its own. Maybe it was possessed, I don’t know. But I’m sure to some cop who’s having a bad day it’ll sound like a lame excuse.
Kinda reminds me of a time when I was in my early 20’s. I was driving east early one morning just as the sun was rising. It was bothering the heck out of me even with the sun visor down. Next thing I know, I see the dreaded flashing lights behind me. When I asked the officer the reason for the stop, he calmly stated that I was going 30 mph in a school zone. I looked over and sure enough, there was the blinking light that indicated that it was a school zone.
I told the officer that I didn’t initially see the blinking light because of the sun blaring and he wrote me a ticket anyway. I’m not saying that I didn’t deserve the ticket, clearly I was in the wrong. The point that I’m trying to make is that circumstances don’t always matter. Whether you were texting or your phone had a mind of its own, it will be at the cops discretion how s/he will proceed.
Oh, and one thing I will never forget about the cop who ticketed me that day, he was wearing sunglasses. Guess I should have been also.
4. Is This Just a Way to Keep People From Recording Bad Behavior?
A lot of people use their cell phones to record traffic stops and encounters with the police. Will demanding a driver’s phone now render him/her completely unable to document the encounter with recorded evidence? It’s highly unlikely that a judge or jury is going to just believe someone’s word against an officer.
5. How is this different from a breathalyzer?
Not all people in traffic stops are automatically assumed drunk. However, I fear that if used for more than just car accidents a good number of people are going to be criminalized for nothing more than checking a text while stopped at a red light.
Also, breathalyzers are pretty accurate. No one else can drink for you nor can you lie about whether or not you’ve been drinking. With cell phones, the truth is not so black and white.
6. Will this prevent car accidents?
If it did, I would be behind it but I seriously doubt it. Some laws turn regular, law-abiding citizens into criminals. A good example would be the law in Missouri that turn young students into felons for fighting at school.
While I will admit that it’s much too early to tell whether or not the textalyzer will be an effective tool, in time we will have more answers.
While I like the idea of driving on roads and highways where others are not distracted, I just feel like there has to be a better way of doing so.
Side note: After completing this post I was sent a link to this video by someone who had no idea what I was working on. Although the video emphasizes innocent people who are wrongfully arrested for being under the influence of drugs, it pretty much makes my point on why I’m not overly enthused about the textalyzer.
What are your thoughts on the Textalyzer? Are there other ways to achieve the same goal without being so invasive?