The supervisor of New Castle in Westchester County is pushing for legislation that would allow police to check the contents of a driver’s cell phone at an accident scene without a warrant. Currently, the Supreme Court has ruled that police officers must obtain a warrant before examining a private cell phone, even if they suspect distracted driving as the cause of a crash.
New Castle Supervisor Greenstein argues that technology already exists to tell if a phone was being used that could be employed at any time without a search warrant. This technology does not require the reading of possibly private content; it simply allows police officers to determine if the driver was using the phone prior to a crash.
New Castle County officers wrote more than 700 tickets for distracted driving in 2014 after a crackdown on this dangerous problem. In 2013, only 50 tickets were issued for distracted driving. However, Greenstein and others are concerned that the problem of distracted drivers does not seem to be improving.
Distracted Driving and Personal Injury
More and more personal injury car accidents are involving distracted driving in some form. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 3,328 people killed and 421,000 people injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012. Nearly one in five crashes in which there is an injury victim involves a distracted driver.
Recent studies show that talking on cell phones is nearly universal among certain age groups while they are driving. In the United States, 69 percent of drivers ages 18 to 64 admitted that they had spoken on their cell phones while driving during the 30-day period prior to the survey. By way of comparison, Europeans talk much less frequently while driving: in the United Kingdom, the percentage was 21 percent while in Portugal, the country with the highest percentage of drivers talking on cell phones, the number was 59 percent.
Even more frightening, 31 percent of all drivers in the United States ages 18 to 64 reported sending or receiving email or text messages at least once within 30 days prior to the survey. This number reflects a very dangerous reality. When drivers text, they often take their eyes off the road for many seconds at a time, resulting in a very real threat to those around them.
If you have been involved in an accident with a texting driver, contact the personal injury attorneys at the Fitzgerald Law Firm in New York immediately.