Texting and driving can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk or driving while exhausted. This is one of the many points that New York’s Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice highlighted in a five-point plan that she distributed to smartphone device manufacturers, as well as other policy makers and industry leaders, in a bold move to reduce phone-related auto accidents.
In the Five Point Plan to Reduce Driving While Texting, DA Rice urged tech companies Apple, Google, Microsoft and Blackberry to work with third-party developers and incorporate safety devices into their products that would prevent texting capabilities during vehicle operation. She further addressed insurance providers, suggesting discounts for drivers who used devices where such text-blocking third party applications were in use.
DA Rice also communicated with law enforcement agencies and local courts, suggesting that mandating text-blocking applications could be as useful a preventative measure for those who text while driving as transdermal alcohol monitoring alcohol bracelets or personal breathalyzers are for DUI offenders. Rice also contacted the local police department and proposed new techniques for enhanced enforcement against texting while driving. Furthermore, DA Rice is in the process of creating a public awareness campaign, which will include a web page complete with a variety of safe driving resources, and will update her “Choices and Consequences” high school education program.
Rice’s concerns are not unfounded. Driving while texting (DWT) causes the same level of distractedness as driving blind for five seconds, according to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration. The NHTSA also states that DWT causes the same impairment as driving after having 4 alcoholic drinks, and is 6 times more likely to cause an accident than a DWI. DA Rice has been on a mission to reduce traffic-related crimes for years now, and her aggressive approach to stopping DWT will likely gain momentum as many of her other campaigns have in the past.
Written by Shayna Keyles