Controversial tool could make Florida roads safer

Despite the risks and rules that should discourage texting behind the wheel, many motorists continue to engage in this dangerous behavior. Oftentimes, they think it’s not a big deal to look at their phone for a few seconds, or they believe they can safely divide their attention between their phones and the road. It is only in the event of a serious accident that these drivers learn they are wrong.

One main problem that makes it difficult to stop people from texting is that it is difficult to prove a person was texting while driving. However, a controversial tool could help police determine what a person was doing on a phone in the seconds before a traffic stop or accident.

As noted in this recent article from ABC Action News, the Textalyzer is a device that police connect to a person’s phone. In a matter of minutes, it prepares a report showing recent swipes and taps. Sources specify that the reports do not show any actual content or text.

Proponents of the device say that it could serve a purpose much like a Breathalyzer, which is a widely used tool that determines intoxication. Knowing that a Textalyzer could be used during a traffic stop could be a powerful deterrent for motorists. And if the device was used like a Breathalyzer, drivers could have the option to refuse the test.

However, while there is no content generated in these reports, the tool has come under fire by groups like the ACLU for privacy concerns. People expect the information on their phones to be private; without a warrant, critics argue, a search of someone’s phone would violate his or her right to privacy.

What do you think? Do you think that a device like the Textalyzer should be available to Florida police because it could make it easier to enforce distracted driving laws and keep motorists safe? Or, could it lead to violations of people’s privacy and civil rights?

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