Many states have banned distracted driving — leading legislators, community organizations and public health officials to develop programs similar to drunk driving campaigns to combat the phenomenon.
Distracted driving "is not being treated as seriously as drunk driving, and it needs to be," Candace Lightner, founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, told The New York Times.
"It’s dangerous, devastating, crippling, and it’s a killer, and still socially acceptable," she said.
Lightner is part of a new group, Partnership for Distraction-Free Driving, which seeking to pressure Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies to discourage drivers from multitasking, the Times reports.
The effort is based on Lightner's campaign to get beer and liquor companies to discourage drunken driving.
The organization's agenda regarding distracted driving is "the equivalent of the early '80s" in drunken driving, the Times reports. Tougher laws and corporate responsibility efforts resulted from their campaigns.
New York lawmakers have responded with a new roadside digital testing device — the Textalyzer — modeled after the Breathalyzer, the Times reports.
According to the report, an officer arriving to a crash scene could ask for the phones of the drivers involved and use the Textalyzer to tap into the operating system to check for recent activity.
The technology could determine whether a driver used the phone to do things that are barred by New York’s hands-free driving laws, the Times reports.
New Yorkers now can only talk on the phone while using a headset, a 2001 law championed by Democratic state Assemblyman Félix Ortiz.
"We need something on the books where people’s behavior can change," Ortiz, a sponsor of the Textalyzer bill, told the Times.
If the legislation becomes law, "People are going to be more afraid to put their hands on the cellphone," he said.
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