Police to Check Cell Phone Records of Drivers in Accidents for Timing of Calls and Messages
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Now here’s a sobering thought. In fact, in some ways it’s analogous to a field sobriety test. Police are going to start checking the cell phone records of drivers who are involved in accidents. And what they will find, it can be assumed, may be damning indeed.

In fact, they currently can check cell phone records if an accident leads to the death of someone, and indeed a man in England was jailed for two years after he was involved in a fatal car crash. Police discovered that minutes before the crash Michael Smith had sent a long text message to his step-daughter (yes, from behind the wheel), and that mere seconds before the crash he had received one.


According to the prosecution in that case, “Smith was using his mobile phone on his journey that morning. He sent the long text message barely two minutes before the tragic fatal crash. His stepdaughter replied to the message at the very moment the fatal collision took place.”

Said the judge to Smith, in sentencing him, “Your driving fell far below what would be expected of a careful and considerate driver.”

Now, this all happened in the U.K., and indeed the news that police may start checking cell phone records following any accident, not just a fatal one, is from the U.K. as well. But, make no mistake, there is a move afoot in the U.S. to do the same thing. So if the idea at the top of the story gave you pause to think, well, it should.

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Partnership for Safe Driving, headquartered in Washington, D.C., advocates that cell phone records should be checked after a crash to see whether cell phone use may have contributed to the crash, just as we now check for alcohol, explains Partnership Director Lisa Sheikh. She adds, “We also believe this behavior should be uninsurable. If you’re involved in a crash and were talking on your cell phone, you should pay for the crash. This is not something a private company should be underwriting.”

And the matter of checking cell phone records following a crash came up in senate hearings just last week during the hearings for Senator Scott Dibble’s “hang up and drive” bill. Dibble’s bill passed the Senate committee with flying colours, and a companion bill in the House proposed by Representative Frank Hornstein is expected to receive similar support.

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6 thoughts on “Police to Check Cell Phone Records of Drivers in Accidents for Timing of Calls and Messages
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  1. Martha there is a big difference between not wearing a seat belt since you only hurt yourself but talking on a cell phone is equivalent to driving drunk, so I suppose you don’t approve of any law for testing if you are sober or not…People talking on phone can hurt innocent people in other vehicles or that probably doesn’t bother you either.

  2. The bottom line is driving while HOLDING a cell phone is dangerous to others. Everyday I see numerous drivers texting while driving, dialing while driving, etc. It is an epidemic of selfishness and stupidity and, since cars can and do kill people, driving while texting, holdinging a phone, etc should be punished extremely harshly.

    There is no defense or excuse for texting while driving. None! Pull over if it’s so important.

    If you’re not doing stupid things while driving you have no reason to fear this law at all. Opposition sounds like saying, “I wanna text while driving.”

  3. Talking on a hands free or a passenger whats the difference? insurance companies are lobbying for another way to get out of paying. They can be more likely to prove a phone call than a convesation with a passenger and both happen everyday. What’s next? statistics states you talk to passengers 90% of the time so your going to jail. Granted phones can be distracting but so can a backseat full of kids but thats impossible to prove. We are being policed to death. When does it stop?

  4. It’s about time! 3 years ago my 14 year old son was killed by a driver who was on his cell phone and speeding. He got two speeding tickets and a negligent driving ticket. ALL payable fines. SICKENING!
    We humans do NOT have common sense. Talking, texting on cell phones while driving COME ON! It’s not only the phones putting on makeup reading news papers the list is endless. You know what… The U.S needs to WAKE up and realize and takes action because over 44 thousand people a year die in crashes and millions injured and billions of dollars paid for crashes, THAT’S why these laws have to be put into effect.!
    Wake up the only reason you have your knickers in a uproar is because your probably the ones yapping on your little phone while driving.. AND GOD FOR BID happened to you!
    I never understood why in the world people needed to be on cell phones as they were driving I hope they get the book thrown at them!

  5. Classic goverment at work – another attempt to legislate common sense –
    There is no way to accurately determine the time an accident occurred. The best we have is the time the 911 call is posted. It can sometimes take several minutes from the point the accident is witnessed to the time the call gets through. Even still, cell phone records are not that accurate. Our servers here are periodically synced to Internet-based time servers, and I can tell you that they are very often more than a minute or two off. “So what ?’ you say. Imagine this scenario. You leave the office for the day and place a call home from your cell phone as you are walking to your car, to see if you need to stop and pickup bread and milk on the way home. You finish the call before you even start your vehicle , and two minutes later you are making your way home down a busy street. Suddenly, a car pulls out in front of you and you hit them, killing the driver. This tragedy will now be compounded by the fact you will go to prison because cell phone records indicate you made a cell phone call just minutes before the crash. Or perhaps this scenario : Your kid is driving home from the gym on the interstate during rush hour. Through no fault of his own, he gets caught up in a chain reaction accident, with the car behind him pushing him into the car in front of him. (dont think this can happen ? Think again – it HAS happened to me). The next day the Police come and arrest your kid because somebody at the front of the accident died and your kid’s buddy text messaged your kid and cell phone records show the message went through 2 minutes before the accident. Do you think the Police will care that the phone was in his gym bag and still shows the message unread ?
    People will always make stupid mistakes. There will always be distractions on the road, regardless weather it is a cell phone, an I-Pod, a cool song on the radio that you want louder or a pretty girl walking on the sidewalk. You can’t make them all illegal and can’t realistically prove there was or was not a distraction.

  6. When did we change over from democracy to communism? I watch a lot of news, being retired, and cringe at all the stupid new laws being considered. All of them impinge upon our freedoms. (Yes, the freedom to be stupid and not wear a seatbelt has been taken away.) More cameras–has no one read the book by George Orwell “1984” One locality wants to pass a law forbidding eating or smoking in one’s car. Give me a break.

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