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| Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Texting-and-drivingEvery day in the United States, nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are seriously injured in car crashes caused by distracted drivers. Many safety advocates believe the number is much higher because many drivers don’t admit they were using their cell phones while they were driving. Despite the saturation of public service campaigns and education programs that hammer home how deadly this driving behavior is, the number of fatal distracted driving accidents continue to increase each year.

Although there are a number of reasons why drivers become distracted, the most common reason is that they are focusing on their cell phones instead of focusing on the road. Texting, checking emails and social media accounts, and fiddling with their GPS apps are all too common activities that drivers are engaging in right before they slam into another vehicle or pedestrian.

The majority of states have passed laws banning texting and driving. Here in Virginia, texting is banned for all drivers. It is classified as a primary offense, meaning a police officer does not need another reason to stop you if he or she suspects you are texting. Despite these laws, drivers continue to text and victims continue to die.

A New Weapon in the Distracted Driving Battle?

In an effort to drive these numbers down, states and municipalities are turning to new technology. One new device currently in development would enable law enforcement to find out if a driver was using their cell phone at the time an accident happened. Referred to as a textalyzer, these devices can access the phone’s activity logs and see if the phone was accessing an app, sending a text, or making a phone call at the moment of impact. One state, New York, is examining whether or not this device could become part of their implied consent law when a person is granted a driver’s license, working much the same way the law works for when it comes to suspicion of drunk driving and breathalyzers.

Not everyone thinks textalyzers are a good idea. Several civil liberties groups, including the ACLU, have voiced opposition to the devices, citing privacy issues.

Distracted Driving Accidents

Our Virginia car accident attorneys have represented many families who have suffered the devastating loss a loved one because a driver refused to follow the law and put their phone down while behind the wheel. Our personal injury attorneys have also participated in several safety programs, including the nationwide “End Distracted Driving” presentations held at area Virginia high schools. The goal of these presentations is to send the message to young people about the deadly consequences of distracted driving.


  1. Gravatar for Mark Brisson
    Mark Brisson

    Texting is not just a "teen" problem. There are millions of employees who seek to do work while behind the wheel. Fleet vehicles/company cars are on thread more than teen drivers. They "multi-task" becoming very distracted.

    The State wants to increase fees and fines, but there is a tech way to stop these distraction. There are apps to block you using your phone when you drive. AT&T DriveMode is one example and it is FREE!

    One area that is rarely discussed is that each state has hundreds of State vehicles that inspectors, regulators and the agricultural department use as fleet vehicles, but they do not have the technology to diminish distracted driving. I would love to see one state lead by example and use a program, like FleetMode, to block texts, redirect incoming phone calls, and impede all other apps in the State vehicles. If we want our state roads to be safer, let’s start by making our state vehicles safer.

  2. Gravatar for Joel Kofsky
    Joel Kofsky

    Theres been plenty of news of the textalyzer technology going back to last year. However since then ... "crickets". Many local authorities have talked about studies and the benefits but no more information as to when it will come into being.

    Distracted driving is probably the most massive problem facing todays drivers and its not only causes accidents but makes it more expensive to drive overall as insurance companies are quick to increase policy costs based on the number of drivers overall who do text / call and email while driving.

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