The Chicago Tribune reported this week that two Chicago Aldermen are interested in new traffic technology called a Textalyzer, a device developed by Israeli company Cellebrite — which can access a phone’s operating system to check whether it was being used to text, email or perform other functions. Its name is a play on the Breathalyzer, which can help determine whether a driver is legally drunk.
Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, and Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, on Wednesday introduced a resolution calling on the Police Department to appear before a City Council committee “to address the use of emerging technology, such as a Textalyzer, in enforcing the city’s existing traffic laws or the investigation of vehicle accidents.”
I have written on the dangers of texting and driving on this site ad nauseum through the years, as I believe it has been proven that distracted driving is an epidemic in this country. Far too many people text and drive and it is causing serious traffic accidents and sometimes traffic fatalities. My problem with this proposal is that it calls into question whether this type of technology invades on peoples 4th amendment right to privacy. Specifically, the constitutional right against illegal search and seizures. Many people do not realize that when stopped by policy they do not have to submit to a breathalyzer or other sobriety tests. Further, people have the right refuse an officer’s request to search their vehicles. Although, it must be noted that if an officer believes there is probable cause for a search they can go ahead and do so (though anything found in such a search could be subject to the Court’s scrutiny as to whether the search was legal). The point here is whether police should have the right to seize a drivers phone and perform a “Textalyzer” analysis to determine if the driver had been using the phone at the time of the crash? I don’t believe so. It could be argued that the phone could be seized if there is overwhelming evidence that the phone was being used prior to the stop (i.e. the officer saw the driver typing into the phone while driving or the phone was in the drivers lap following a car accident).
These are all questions that need to be answered prior to the city moving forward and handing over this technology to police officers. I do not believe the City Council should rubber stamp this technology without a careful determination of the constitutional implications. Further, there is the question of whether this type of technology would be a deterrent for drivers to use their phones while behind the wheel.
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation.
The Chicago Mayor’s office announced last month that it is launching “Vision Zero” action plan with the goal of eliminating all traffic deaths by 2026. In a press release may Rahm Emanuel state, ““Every day someone is injured or worse as the result of a car crash on Chicago’s streets… these crashes are preventable, and that is why we are stepping up our efforts, developing partnerships with communities and private industry. We are going to use all the resources at our disposal to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Chicago.”
All of the details of this new safety program will be released later this Fall, but the press release stated that the plan will look at traffic safety as a public health issue and identify priorities for the City’s engineering and education initiatives, as well as enforcement support for reducing crashes. City departments are currently working with stakeholders and the public to develop the final goals and strategies included in the plan. In 2016, more than 100 intersections will receive additional infrastructure to make it safer for people walking to cross the street. Among these is a Safe Routes to School project on the West Side that has installed 10 pedestrian refuge islands along Madison Street and Chicago Avenue. There are 10 schools located within a half-mile of these high crash areas. The City is also enhancing safety by making traffic signal improvements, resurfacing hundreds of miles of streets, installing speed feedback signs, and adding or improving 25 miles of bike lanes this year.
The city is treating this as a public health issue, as they should. Chicago has seen six bicycle traffic fatalities this year. That number equals the total number of bicycle traffic deaths from last year with three months still yet to go in 2016. Chicago is at a crossroads right now with bicycle safety. Chicago was recently named the top bicycle friendly city in country by Bicycling Magazine. We have more bicycle commuters than ever along with Divvy bike riders crowding our roads. This is a good thing. So are all of the dedicated bike lanes. But bicycle traffic accidents and fatalities are still prevalent. Bicyclers and motorists need to learn to co-exist. We need to be mindful of each other and always observe the rules of the road. “Vision Zero” is the perfect stepping stone to help lead to a better co-existence between bicyclists and motorists. I will be writing more about the initiative once the full plan is announced.
If you or one of you loved ones has been seriously injured in a Chicago bicycle accident or Chicago car crash, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.
The intersection located at Lincoln, Ashland and Belmont Avenues will receive an overhaul, according to online blog DNA Info Chicago. This intersection, often referred to as “Six Corners” is considered to be one of the most dangerous and congested intersections in the city. An average of 35 car crashes occur each year with daily traffic around 62,000 vehicles. The intersection with the highest traffic crash rate — Stony Island, South Chicago and 79th in South Shore — had an average 63 car crashes with about the same traffic volume.
The changes proposed by the Chicago Department of Transportation will receive local, state of federal funding. These changes will include:
- Extending curbs at all six corners, which shortens and straightens crosswalks. The Lincoln Avenue bump outs would be specially designed to straighten the street for a more “intuitive” crossing.
- Eliminating four turns, including the left turns from northbound Lincoln to Belmont and from southbound Ashland to Lincoln. Right turns from northbound Ashland to Belmont and from southbound Lincoln to Ashland would also be restricted.
- Moving bus stops to the far sides of the intersection — southbound Ashland buses, for example, would stop at the southwest corner in front of Central Savings bank.
- Adding bicycle lanes with dedicated, dotted crossings along Lincoln Avenue. Bicycle boxed spaces painted green would also put bicyclists ahead of vehicles at the cross.
These are changes that are long awaited and should make the area safer for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists with the dedicated bike lane on Lincoln. I’ve said this before, but the city is standing by its’ statements from five years ago that they want to be a front runner for bicycle accessibility and safety. The city is proving again that they care about bicyclist safety.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago bike accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.