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Distracted driving- Could New York's proposed "textalyzer" come to Ontario?

Distracted driving laws have been around for a few years, but the dangerous behaviour only seems to be picking up speed. In fact, Ontario statistics indicate that distracted driving collisions now cause twice as many deaths as they did in the year 2000.

Noting the trends, New York lawmakers have been pushing to introduce a new technology, dubbed the "textalyzer". The newfangled device would equip police to detect cell phone use at the scene of an accident, similar to the way they test drivers for blood alcohol level with a breathalyzer. If passed as law, the practice may easily spread across the continent and make its way north of the border.

Controversy over textalyzer use

Currently, the police, personal injury lawyers and the like are allowed to obtain warrants to access cell phone records in association with accident investigations. But the process can take time and expense - a positive and necessary encumbrance that protects privacy, according to the textalyzer's opponents.

Yet, advocates of the device are point out that the textalyzer only scans for activity in the time preceding a crash and does not allow officers to see exact content on the phone.

Meanwhile, debate continues over the legalities and implications - whether the practice opens the door for unwarranted cell phone seizures or instead, that drivers would effectively provide "implied consent" once they become licensed, as they do when pulled over for a breathalyzer test.

Stay alert. Stay safe.

While legislators battle out the issue, drivers are encouraged to do their part to keep roads safe. Distracted driving doesn't only encompass texting or talking on a phone. Crashes can also happen when drivers are eating, reaching into the back seat, checking themselves out in the mirror or even when the music is cranked up too loud.

Best tip for keeping free of distraction: keep both hands on the steering wheel and both eyes on the road.

Other helps include planning your route rather than fiddling with a GPS, getting sufficient rest before driving, switching drivers during long trips and even having a designated driver who commits to avoiding handheld devices.

With your chances of crashing up 23% while texting and driving, keeping free of distraction makes sense and saves lives.

Meanwhile, until the textalyzer bill becomes law, injuries and deaths from distracted driving continue to be a grim reality. If you find yourself injured due to another driver's inattention, seeking legal representation still provides the best chance of pinning down negligence and seeking financial compensation.

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