The Textalyzer: Fighting Distracted Driving or Violating Privacy?

You’ve probably heard of a breathalyzer. But what about a textalyzer? If recently proposed legislation in New York paves the way, we might start seeing a unique new way to enforce punishments on distracted driving. But while the idea of cutting down on distracted driving is an important one, the concept of the textalyzer hasn’t been without controversy.

Introducing the Textalyzer

In New York, the textalyzer is presented as a tablet-like device that plugs into a driver’s phone. The device would allow police officers to view the driver’s recent phone usage. This would give them the ability to determine if the driver was texting, talking on the phone, or using an app while behind the wheel. The textalyzer’s developers and supporters emphasize that the device would only show the usage, not the actual contents of the phone. For example, it would show that someone was sending a text, but would not reveal what the text said.

The Scary Statistics on Distracted Driving

To understand the need for a device like the textalyzer, take a look at the harrowing statistics on distracted driving:

  • 666,000 Americans admit to using their phone while driving
  • 94% of teenager drivers say they have used their phone while driving
  • 6 million crashes every year involve a distracted driver—that’s one out of every four accidents
  • Nine people are killed every day by distracted drivers, and another 1,000 are injured

When a driver is traveling 55 miles per hour, taking their eyes off the road for just five seconds means they are traveling the length of football field! Considering that many Americans know this commonly cited statistic, it’s frightening how many still choose to text and drive.

By introducing the textalyzer, New York hopes to do something about these scary statistics. In New York State, texting and driving is punishable with fine or a license suspension. The textalyzer would help enforce this law, ensuring that offenders see punishment for their dangerous actions. In Florida, texting while driving is a secondary offense. This means that it will not result in a fine or jail time, but enough offenses will lead to a license suspension. However, the first offense does not have any punishment. This means that unfortunately, many Floridians get away with repeatedly texting and driving with very little consequences. But in New York, the textalyzer just might make a difference!

Privacy Concerns

However, the textalyzer has plenty of opponents. While most everyone agrees that texting and driving is a bad thing, some are worried about privacy. By gaining access to a driver’s phone, it could be breaching their privacy, even if the police office cannot see personal information, like pictures, messages, or other content.  In other situations, a police officer would require a search warrant to look through someone’s phone, so opponents to the textalyzer are asking why this can be done without a warrant. Additionally, opponents fear that the textalyzer would be used to target certain groups and inadvertently create a different, bigger issue while trying to address distracted driving. While the textalyzer is working towards an important goal, these privacy concerns are very valid.

What Do You Think?

What do you think? Do the benefits of the textalyzer outweigh the privacy concerns? Would you support a device like this in Florida?


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.


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