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 NH authorize police to check if a driver's cellphone was being used at the time of an accident?”

Results: Yes or No Respondents

Police Cell Phone Checks NH Citizen Voices Chart

Participation: 1,248 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. 

Click here to read the full Facebook discussion of this question. 

Know someone who would be interested in these results? Forward them the summary version of this report. 

Should NH authorize police to check if a driver's cellphone was being used at the time of an accident? Leave a comment and have your say! 

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