“What is for dinner” or “On my way home” are common things people may be texting today. What can make these ordinary comments dangerous is if they are texted while driving. Texting while driving is unsafe. An estimated 16,000 people have died texting while driving between the years 2001-2007. Therefore, this distraction is now a popular target for law enforcement agents to focus on. Officers need to keep the road safe from distracted drivers but with technology changing, they are having a hard time keeping up.
Police are in the process of cracking down on texting and driving. The law is that the driver is not supposed to use any “text based communications” behind the wheel. This means that the driver cannot create messages, read messages, or read any other written communication composed on a wireless interactive device. On the other hand, the driver is able to use their phone to dial and make calls.
The problem is, how can an officer distinguish between dialing or texting? This is becoming a bigger concern because if an officer accuses you of texting while driving, the only evidence they have are your text messages. In order for the officer to prove that you sent out a text is to seize your phone and go through it. The question is, are police allowed to seize the phone without a warrant. The Fourth Amendment protects you from illegal search and seizers and sets the boundaries for warrants. In these cases the courts have decided that the officers can seize your phone and search through it in most situations.
To ensure the safety of the roads and to protect people's privacy from illegal search and seizers, it would be better and easier if all electronic devices were banned from use while driving. Not only would this allow the driver to focus on the road and prevent harm to others and themselves, it also means that if the driver is found using a device while driving the police can write up a ticket without having to confiscate the phone and go through it. Banning electronic devices makes a clear-cut statement that you will be charged a fine if caught using a phone. In doing this hopefully more drivers will take the law seriously and leave their devices in their bags, purses or pockets and wait to use them till they get to their destination.
Denis O’Malley. New law banning texting while driving to be enforced. Thetimes-Tribune. 5/07/2012. http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/new-law-banning-texting-while-driving-to-be-enforced-thursday-1.1282146#axzz1oT1yQtTp.
Priscilla Alvarez. State may tighten texting and driving rules. Collegiate Times. 02/12/2012. http://www.collegiatetimes.com/stories/19252/state-may-tighten-texting-and-driving-rules