CITIZEN VOICES® Slight majority favor allowing police to check cellphones after accidents - 1,248 participants

Apr 09, 2016

The New York Legislature is considering a law that would allow police to use so-called ‘Textalyzer’ technology which enables access to time and date stamps on calls, text messages, and other mobile use without accessing a user’s personal content. Law enforcement officials would be empowered to use the device on drivers’ phones after car accidents without a warrant. Read more about this issue. On April 9, the LFDA decided to put the issue to its Facebook members, posting the question, “Should NH authorize police to check if a driver's cellphone was being used at the time of an accident?”

Should police be allowed to check cellphones after accidents?

Police Cell Phone Checks NH Citizen Voices Chart

Participation: 1,284 participants gave 2,380 responses.

A total of 88% of those participating gave a 'yes or no' response to the question. The remaining 12% of participants engaged in the discussion but did not give a yes or no response. In total, the LFDA received 2,380 responses from 1,248 individuals. (Click here for details on our methodology.)

What Participants Said

No: A slight majority, at 55% of ‘yes or no’ respondents, opposed allowing police to check cellphone usage after an accident.

  • “That's a violation of my 4th amendment of protection against search and seizure.”
  • “No. If there is probable cause to search a phone, I am sure the police can procure a warrant.”
  • “If New Hampshire dares to try to implement this law, it will get thrown out eventually, especially if it works its way up to federal court.”

Yes: The minority of ‘yes or no’ respondents, at 45%, supported allowing police to check cellphone usage after an accident.

  • “It can help determine if distraction was a cause.”
  •  “Without a doubt. I actually was witness to a fender-bender today because someone was pre-occupied with their phone.”
  •  “I think they should have the right to look at your phone if you are in an accident, especially a fatal one.”

Other: As noted above, 12% of those participating did not give a yes or no response, instead addressing their comments to related questions and issues. These included:

  • Questioning the logistics behind enforcement: “My truck uses Bluetooth for calls, directions and texts. Also my phone always refreshes even while driving. So I don't see how any of that info would be illegal.”
  • Broadening the discussion: “Sounds like more insurance industry meddling. If a driver is found to have been using their cell, insurance won’t pay.”
  • Questioning similar behaviors exhibited by police: “I see cops on cell phones while driving using their computers while driving. Is that different or is it okay?”

*Editor selection of actual participant quotes. 

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