Chicago Aldermen Propose Use Of “Textalyzer” By City Police

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.

AT&T Taking Virtual ‘It Can Wait App’ To High School Students

The dangers of texting and driving has been well documented by media the last five years. I have discussed the topic on this blog dozens of times. I have opined again and again that the penalties for texting and driving should be increased, especially in the instance where there is an injured party. The reasoning is similar to the drunk driving laws some thirty years ago. The penalties for drinking and driving for a long time in most states were the equivalent to a slap on the wrist. It wasn’t until interest groups pressured lawmakers to increase penalties, did we finally see heftier fines and jail time for drinking and driving throughout every state. Safety advocates have been pushing for the same changes to texting and driving laws.

I have to hand it to AT&T for their recent efforts to prevent texting and driving. Their “It Can Wait” campaign, which can be found all over television and social media has been incredibly effective. Further, AT&T is now going into schools and showing students first-hand the dangers of texting and driving.  The new app ‘It Can Wait” takes students on a 3D virtual reality tour of the dangers that can occur from looking at a cell phone while driving. The app “It Can Wait” can be downloaded on all IOS and Android phones. The virtual app reveals just how dangerous texting and driving is, and more importantly how quickly drivers can lose control of their vehicle when they look at their phone just for a second. I applaud AT&T for putting their money where their mouth is. This company reaps millions in profits for selling their services and smart phones, but at the same time is making a concerted effort to show how dangerous their devices can be if not used properly.

Click here to view what teen drivers are seeing through the virtual app.

If you or someone you love has been injured in Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

NY Times Video On Distracted Driving Points Out Dangers Of Texting & Driving

If you click here you can view a video on the New York Times website regarding the dangers of texting and driving. The video clip points out all of the statistical dangers of using your phone while driving. For example, studies have shown that talking on your phone while driving is so distracting that it is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol content of .08, which is legally drunk for driving.

I have written on this subject and discussed multiple studies in the past on this blog. The reason I am posting this video is due to all the people interviewed in the clip. Many of the people all admit to using their phone (talking and texting) while driving. People know it is dangerous – – they see others being distracted by it – – yet they continue to do it. It is kind of funny because the only person interviewed who admitted to switching to a blue tooth for his ear stated that he switched over because he had received 5 tickets for using his phone while driving. I find this amusing because I have argued over and over that the only way to convince people to stop texting in driving is to increase the penalties. Raise the fines, require safety classes and if someone is injured in a crash, then suspend the license and threaten jail time. I am convinced that this is the only way to convince people to stop texting and driving.
If you or someone your love has been injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com.  

NTSB Recommends Total Ban On Cell Phones In Vehicles

I wrote last week about the drastic increase of drivers who texted behind the wheel.The National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) administration found these text and drive results among U.S. drivers through various studies.


These findings appeared to have sent a serious jolt throughout the federal government, as the board dedicated to keeping highways and roads safe – – the National Highway Safety Board – – has recommended a complete ban on cell phone use while driving. The only exception would be in case of emergencies.  The government (in my opinion rightfully) believes that texting and driving is an epidemic similar to drinking and driving.  According to the NHTSA there were 3,092 roadway fatalities last year involved distracted drivers. Though they believe the number may actually be higher. Federal officials have taken to calling phone use behind the wheel “the new DUI.”

This type of restriction is going to face serious opposition I believe from both Republicans and Democrats. There will also be strong opposition from each state as they will argue that it is an issue they can legislate themselves.  Personally, I think it will be difficult to justify a complete ban on cell phone use for drivers as so many people rely on their phone for business purposes. Yet it appears that the government studies are correct in asserting that texting and driving is an epidemic similar to drinking and driving. As I mentioned last week, until people recognize the potential consequences of texting and driving (similar to not wearing a seat belt or driving while drunk), then people will continue to type on their phones while driving. How do we change this mentality?  For now it will take time, but just like drinking and driving laws, the local, state and federal governments need to enact stiffer penalties. 

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com

Texting & Driving Increases By 50% In 2011

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released some startling news last week about texting and driving. According to several different studies performed by the NHTSA, drivers who have texted on their phones while behind the wheel increased by 50% over the past year.

The NHTSA takes an annual snapshot of drivers’ behavior by staking out selected stoplights and intersections to count people using cell phones and hand-held Web devices that allow them to text, view directions, check emails, surf the Internet, or play games. At any given time, just under 1 percent of drivers were texting or manipulating hand-held devices.  The activity increased to 0.9 percent of drivers in 2010, up from 0.6 percent the year before.

In a separate telephone survey of drivers, 18 percent said they’ve sent texts or emails while at the wheel. That number jumps to half among younger drivers, ages 21 to 24.The survey also found that most drivers will answer a cell phone call while driving and most will continue to drive while they talk. NHTSA surveyed 6,000 drivers ages 18 or older in the national poll conducted a year ago and released Thursday.

“What’s clear from all of the information we have is that driver distraction continues to be a major problem,” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said.

This is somewhat disheartening news considering the amount of effort state and federal legislators have done to enact bans on texting in driving the past few years. It is illegal to text and drive in the city of Chicago along with a statewide ban in Illinois.  I have said this before but, it seems to be more apparent than ever, that people in the U.S. are reacting in a snail like pace to adapt to the new texting and driving laws. This is similar to the way this country reacted to seatbelt laws in the 1960s.  I guess people do not realize just how dangerous it is to text and drive.  Maybe local and state legislators need to consider stiffer penalties, especially if a the texting causes a car accident involving personal injury or property damage.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a serious car accident or truck accident in Illinois, then call Chicago personal injury attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com.

Survey Shows Even Good Drivers Speed And Text

The Chicago Tribune reported recently about an Allstate study that revealed many interesting findings about supposed “good” drivers.  The surveys revealed that 89 percent said they’ve driven faster than the speed limit, 45 percent said they’ve driven when they’re so tired they could fall asleep and 34 percent conceded they had sent an e-mail or text message while driving, according to the survey of 1,000 adults polled by Financial Dynamics for Allstate insurance company.  70 percent of those who responded said they had to slam on the brakes or swerve to avoid a car accident after they became distracted.

These are somewhat startling statistics. I guess one could compare this to the early implementation of the seat belt. I have read that when the seat belt was added to vehicles in the early 1960s, only about 10 percent of drivers actually buckled up. It took several decades before drivers became smarter about the dangers of not wearing your seat belt. Study’s show that approximately 80 percent of drivers wear their seat belts today. The evolution in seat belt use most likely came from stricter state laws and city ordinances along with a fervent public safety movement.  Hopefully the same evolution takes place with the use of cell phones while driving.  Evidence is overwhelming that it is extremely dangerous to text or talk on the phone while driving. It will be interesting to see if these statistics change in the next 5 to 10 years.

Should you or someone you love become injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com.

New Contest For Teens To Promote Anti-Texting & Driving Campaign

A smart new campaign has been introduced by the National Road Safety Foundation and NSSP (National Student Safety Program), which is offering a $1,000 scholarship to the winning teen who creates the best idea for a public service announcement. Three runner ups will receive a $500 scholarship.  The aim of the PSA is to convince other teens to put down their phones when driving.  

“A quarter of all teens admit to texting behind the wheel and, in 2009, the highest proportion of distracted drivers in fatal crashes was under the age of 20,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We know we have to engage teens in order to put an end to distracted driving. With their help, we can educate teens and adults about making smarter choices that will save lives.”

This is a clever program, which I think could have a huge effect on young people if done right. Kids listen to each other first. If the PSAs are authentic and not made in a corny way, then I think this could go a long way in curbing texting and driving. 

Visit www.nrsf.org or www.adtsea.org/nssp for more information about the competition.

Should you or a loved one become involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago truck accident  then call Chicago personal injury attorney , Aaron J. Bryant, for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com.

Illinois Bans Texting While Driving

I have written about this issue several times in the past and we knew a law was coming. While the time is now as Illinois will become the 17th state on Thursday to ban texting while driving, a safety worry that has caught the attention of the federal government.

Gov. Pat Quinn will sign an amendment to the Illinois Vehicle Code that prohibits writing, sending or receiving text messages while driving, said the governor’s spokeswoman, Marlena Jentz. The bill does make texting exceptions for drivers who pull over to text or shift their car into park or neutral to message while stopped in traffic.

Studies have shown that those who text while driving have an exponentially greater risk of an car accident or near car accident.

A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study found that truck drivers who texted while driving were 23 times more likely to be in a car crash or nearly get into car wrecks than undistracted drivers.

Compared with dialing, talking, listening or reaching for an electronic device, texting posed the greatest car accident risk, the study found — most likely due to the almost five seconds researchers found the drivers’ eyes were off the roadway while texting, said Rich Hanowski, the director of the Center for Truck and Bus Safety at the transportation institute.

The focus on texting while driving comes after a some high-profile accidents.

In September, a California commuter train engineer missed a stop signal while trading text messages with a friend, leading to a collision with a freight train that killed 25 people, according to federal investigators.

A mass-transit accident in Boston, Massachusetts, injured 62 people in May. The operator of a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority trolley was later charged with gross negligence after he admitted he had been texting seconds before the collision with another trolley, according to the Suffolk County district attorney and a National Transportation Safety Board official.

To read the entire story from CNN.com, click here.
 
This is a big step made by Illinois lawmakers to make our roads safer. Based on all the studies we have read about and that I written about in previous posts, this is not surprising at all. It will be interesting to look at car accident statistics in the next few years.

If you or someone you know was involved in an Illinois car accident or an Illinois truck accident, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.

New Study Shows Texting While Driving Increases Auto Accident Rates Tenfold

I think we have all experienced the following situation in the past. You are driving along and you receive a new email or text message on your Blackberry or IPhone. The temptation is there to read the message and even type a response. I have been in that situation countless times returning from Court or even during a long road trip. We all need to face the fact that returning that text is dangerous and can even be deadly. This has been confirmed in a new study performed by the Virginia Tech Traffic Institute, which revealed last week that when drivers texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting.  In the moments before a car crash or near crash, drivers typically spent nearly five seconds looking at their devices — enough time at typical highway speeds to cover more than the length of a football field. 

This is scary information and it has led me to re-think ever responding to a text or email while driving. So, the next time you are cruising around town, please ignore that text or email until you have a chance to stop your car or pull over. It could save your life.

To read more about the study reported on by the New York Times, click here.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a car or trucking accident, then call Attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.