Proposed Bill Would Allow Officers to Check Phones for Texting and Driving
Distracted driving is an epidemic on roadways throughout the country, and a bill proposed by Tennessee State Senator Lee Harris, D-Memphis, would allow law enforcement officers to check drivers’ phones to determine if they sent text messages while behind the wheel.
Per a report by WSMV.com, officers currently aren’t allowed to ask to see drivers’ phones if they initiate traffic stops for suspected distracted driving. Because they can’t see the phones, they can’t obtain proof that drivers were texting, making it more difficult to prove in court. Many officers instead charge drivers with “due care” violations.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol issued 125 citations for texting and driving in Davidson County in 2016 and 13,549 across the entire state. In 2017 alone, troopers have issued nearly 1,000 citations for both texting and driving and due care violations.
Officers are currently only allowed to search phones and check text message histories if they obtain a warrant. However, the proposed legislation would allow officers to ask drivers to check their phones during traffic stops and to plug their phones into computers after crashes to determine is distracted driving was a factor.
Facts to Know about Distracted Driving
Technology is everywhere, including your pocket and inside your car. While the biggest risk of distraction for drivers just a few short years ago was changing the radio station or turning up the volume, drivers now have access to smartphones and vehicle touch screens that feature things like GPS, entertainment options, and text messages. And while these features can be convenient, they can also significantly increase your risk of being involved in an accident if they aren’t used safely.
However, distracted driving isn’t always due to technology, and almost anything can lead to distractions if drivers aren’t trained to keep their focus on the roadway. Some key facts about distracted driving include the following:
- 8 people die and more than 1,100 are injured in distracted driving accidents every day.
Around 3,000 people are killed in distracted driving accidents every year, and around 425,000 are injured. In fact, nearly one in five auto accidents involves a distracted driver. Despite increased awareness campaigns, the number of distracted driving crashes, injuries, and deaths has remained relatively steady over the past few years.
- Texting is one of the biggest risk factors because it requires multiple parts of the brain.
There are three types of distraction: visual—taking eyes off the roadway; manual—taking hands off the wheel; and cognitive—taking your mind off the task of driving. Texting combines all three of these distractions, making it one of the most dangerous types of activities that anyone can engage in while driving.
- A vehicle traveling 55 mph can travel the length of a football field while you text.
Whether you’re writing or reading a text, your vehicle can travel a long distance while your hands, eyes, and mind are off the roadway and the wheel. It takes around five seconds for the average person to open their phone and read or send a text, and in that time, their vehicle can travel 100 yards. At high speeds, such as on an interstate or highway, that distance is even greater, further increasing the risk of a serious and potentially deadly accident.
- Nearly 70 percent of Americans reported recently using their cell phones while driving.
Most drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 reported that they used their cell phones while they were behind the wheel within the past 30 days, with 31 percent reporting that they had read or sent text messages and emails while driving within the past 30 days. The sheer number of potentially distracted drivers on the roadway at any given time means distracted driving is nearly as dangerous as impaired driving.
Although police can’t always check phones to determine if drivers were texting and driving when they get pulled over, that information can often be determined after an accident to help prove if a driver was negligent. At Matt Hardin Law, we investigate all facets of auto and truck accidents, including the possibility of distraction. If we find out the driver was distracted and not fulfilling their responsibility drive safely, we can build a claim to pursue compensation for things like medical bills and lost wages.
If you were injured by a driver that may have been distracted, get in touch with our Nashville distracted driving accident attorneys today. We have two decades of combined experience fighting for the rights of victims like you. Just dial (615) 200-1111 or complete a free online consultation form.