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Text Test By Police: The New Breathalyzer.

From Forbes, 05.15.2017:

Legislation that’s working its way through Albany could allow New York authorities to check drivers’ phones for signs of distraction following an accident, and to impose penalties for refusing that could burden drivers down the road.

A bill that would legalize the use of “textazlyer” devices for determining activity on drivers’ phones is seeing bipartisan support from New York lawmakers, WGRZ Buffalo reported. If passed, it could make New York the first state to implement the technology for catching distracted drivers, who contributed to more than 10,000 traffic fatalities in the last year alone, according to WGRZ.

Now moving through senate and assembly committees, the bill would require drivers who’ve been involved in an accident to let authorities scan their phones for evidence of recent use, or face penalties and license suspension, both at the time and later on, if they refuse. Once developed, the field test could allow officers to quickly generate a time-stamped report on which applications were running and whether drivers were using devices ‘hands on’ or ‘hands free’-style around the time of the accident, according to NPR.

State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer (R-Amherst), who co-sponsored the bill, told WGRZ that a textalyzer tool would not access other content on the phone, nor be able to read text messages, for example, that drivers may have sent or received on the road. Ranzehofer also said the bill could be passed in the legislature by the end of its current session, which concludes next month, and assured WGRZ, “If the device was trolling through your information, I would not be in support of it.”

In New York, the legislation would be known as Evan’s Law, named for 19-year-old Evan Lieberman, who was killed in a 2011 car crash that was later found to be the result of distracted driving. His father Ben Lieberman told NPR he’d “found out the hard way” after his son’s death that obtaining driver phone records after an accident can be “an agonizing process.”

“We often hear, ‘just get a warrant’ or ‘just get the phone records,’ [implying] that the warrant is like filling out some minor form … In New York, it involves a D.A. and a judge. Imagine getting a D.A. and a judge involved in every breathalyzer that’s administered,” he told NPR. Once obtained, such records only show activities like calls and texts, Lieberman said, but not whether drivers were checking email, browsing Twitter, or using any number of other popular apps and platforms.

Recently, Lieberman and representatives of Cellebrite, an Israeli tech developer, demonstrated the textalyzer system they’ve been working on before lawmakers in New York. CBS New York reported that Cellebrite hopes to finish the technology in around nine months, and said the final product will be designed to protect drivers’ data by only seeking evidence of activity on their phones. “For this device, the whole purpose is not to get any data,” said Jim Grady, CEO of Cellebrite USA, to CBS. “So no, police won’t be able to, unless they rewrite our code.”

Depending on the final product, the bill may also force drivers who, for whatever reason, want to protect their privacy by refusing to surrender phones to face some difficult decisions. According to the bill, everyone operating a motor vehicle which “has been involved in an accident or collision involving damage to real or personal property, personal injury, or death, and who has in his [sic] possession at or near the time of such accident or collision, a mobile telephone or electronic device,” would be required to submit such device or devices for on-the-spot field testing upon authorities’ request.

If a driver refuses to surrender their phone for ‘textalyzing,’ they could be subject to a variety of consequences under the bill, starting with the immediate suspension of their driver’s license. In such case, “The police officer will inform the driver that the person’s license or permit to drive and any non-resident operating privilege shall be immediately suspended and subsequently revoked,” the bill explains, while the record of refusal itself “shall be admissible in any trial, proceeding, or hearing” based on a violation of related distracted driving laws, and makes drivers vulnerable to higher fees and heavier punishment later on–all of which could weigh particularly heavily on low-income drivers, those whose employment relies on having an active license, and other disproportionately targeted groups.

According to the Tennessee Law Blog, similar technology is already being used by the FBI, while a number of states are also eyeing the system as a way to bring down the large number of U.S. road fatalities each year.

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My opinion: Textalyzer field testing is a huge overreach by the government and undoubtedly backed by insurance companies, who have become de facto arms of law enforcement of late.  We all know how this will turn up – FUBAR’d to heck and any personal privacy will be gone forever.  Are we seriously becoming such big babies that we can’t restrain ourselves from having to text non-urgent messages while driving? We need government to monitor our every movement because we can’t trust ourselves? With all due respect to those who have lost loved ones to distracted drivers- it’s not the cell, it’t the driver.  It’s after the fact.  If a person isn’t conscious of their actions, endangering everyone else’s privacy is not the answer.  There are apps out there that won’t allow texting while driving for our inexperienced drivers or the weak-willed:

From PolicyGenius:

Drive First
Drive First comes straight from Sprint, and it’s cool that carriers are getting into the no-texting-while-driving game. Your phone automatically locks when you start driving, so no need to start or stop the app, and it automatically replies to texts. But sometimes you need access to things on your phone, right? Drive First lets you set 3 driving apps – like maps or music – so you can get what you need without being tempted to text. You can also set VIP contacts to bypass the block so important people like your husband or boss aren’t blocked every time you get into the car.

Focus
You might have heard of Focus if you’re a fan of Note to Self. The episode that featured Focus was…um, focused on “wexting” – walking and texting – but it works just as well for driving. Like DriveMode, Focus doesn’t actually block anything. Instead, it works to train you to not use your phone while you’re driving. When you’re using it, Focus will tell you to pay attention to your driving. And honestly, while it starts off with gentle reminders, it can get kind of aggressive. If you’re not someone who handles confrontation well, you’ll probably learn quickly. You get report cards emailed to you so you can see how you (or someone else, like your kids) did. If you’re looking to form habits instead of just have your phone locked down, consider Focus.

Drive Mode
If you want something that’s a little less intense, consider Drive Mode. (Not to be confused with the above DriveMode. I know.) It doesn’t block anything, but it does prevent your lockscreen from enabling, so no more typing in PINs or swiping patterns, and it automatically switches calls to your speakerphone. It’s pretty simple, but those two changes remove a lot of the distractions you face from your phone.

TextNoMore
TextNoMore is interesting because it gives you an incentive to not text and drive (besides, you know, not dying). When you’re about to drive, you start the app and put in your estimated driving time. It’ll shut down notifications – nothing revolutionary about that – but the service is partnered with various retailers to provide coupons if you don’t text. It also shows missing children notifications once the app shuts down, so you can feel like you’re doing good, too. The app itself is a little rough-looking, but it’s an intriguing idea and it’ll be interesting to see if others implement similar features.

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For now, keep your eyes on the road and your cell in your pocket, purse or glove compartment, if you really need to.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

 

Lifesaver: Use A Penny Or A Quarter To Determine Adequate Tire Tread

(In our new block, we pass on useful tips each Friday.  since travel season has begun with Spring, first things first, let’s make sure your vehicle should even be spinning along the road.  From PepBoys: tread life and how to check your tires with the change in your pocket. )

The Truth About Tread Life

Tires are designed with treads that provide your vehicle with traction. This traction keeps your car driving along the road – even in inclement weather. Without tread, the elements would literally lift your tires off the road. When you drive through snow or a puddle, the grooves in between the tread blocks of the tires become channels that divert the water or snow away from the tires, allowing the tires to maintain traction in these slick conditions.

When the tread gets worn down, the water, snow, and other slippery substances don’t have anywhere to go except directly under your tires severely decreasing your vehicle’s traction. If your tires are nearly bald, traction will be eliminated completely. Decreased traction will negatively affect your control over the car, making the vehicle unsafe for you and your passengers. Tread depth will determine whether or not you require new tires. You can easily tell if your tires’ tread is too worn by using a penny or a quarter.

Penny Test

Tire Penny Test

The penny test is the gold standard for measuring tire tread-depth because it is easy and it works. Just take a penny and, with Lincoln’s head upside down, put it between the tread blocks of the tire. If you are not able to see the top of Lincoln’s head – if his head is “buried” between the tread blocks – then you still have more than 2/32 of an inch of tread remaining. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to go tire shopping because the tread is worn down to or beyond 2/32 of an inch.

Flip the penny over so that the Lincoln Memorial (pennies from 2010 and earlier will have the memorial on the back) is facing you and put the penny between the tread blocks with the memorial upside down. If the Lincoln Memorial is completely hidden, you have more than 3/32 of an inch of tread left.

Did You Know – Most state laws require tires to have a tread depth of at least 2/32″ to remain in service?

The Quarter Test

Tire Quarter Test

Some automotive experts believe that using a quarter to test tire depth provides a better read than using a penny. Some independent tests have concluded that cars were able to stop faster with tires that had a little more than 4/32 of an inch of tread depth, which is the measurement the quarter test indicates. To perform the quarter test, put a quarter between the tread blocks of a tire (just like the penny test) with Washington’s head upside down, If you cannot see the top of Washington’s head, you have 4/32 of an inch of tread or more.

Did You Know – In snowy and slushy conditions, 4/32 of an inch of tread or more is necessary for good traction

For your Consideration

Pep Boys Point B

Whether you go with Lincoln or Washington, both coin tests are also good ways to check to see if your tires are wearing evenly. Simply do the test between other tread blocks and if the measurements aren’t the same on all the tire treads, the tires may need to be rotated or your vehicle may require an alignment. Different types of treadwearwill indicate how your tires are wearing. If you don’t have any coins handy, check to see if the tires’ wear bars are showing. Wear bars run across your tires tread pattern from the outside edge to the inside edge. If the wear bar is visible you are in need of new tires as you have hit 2/32” of an inch of tread depth. Most states consider a tire’s service life over if any point of the tread is at 2/32” or less. If you are still unsure, your local Pep Boys can evaluate the depth of your tires.

Staying Safe and Your Chances of Dying Otherwise.

New News:   Uber can now track passengers’ locations after they are dropped off even when the app is closed.

(We hope you are enjoying our new feature above. In New News, we bring you the latest info bytes relating to the law, legality, security, privacy concerns and things that catch my attention that I think will interest you. The link will take you to the source article.)

Beacon Bulletin

It’s that time of the year for our annual holiday safety article. You may think you know this all, you’ve heard a million holiday tips by now, it’s all common sense… that may all be true but a) everyone needs a reminder about personal safety every so often and b) we’ll keep it real and try to keep it interesting!

  1. If you are carrying a wallet, keep it in a front pocket. If you carry your wallet in your bag, close the zipper and keep the zipper side in front of you on your shoulder or in your hand.
  2. If walking on a sidewalk near a street, always walk facing the traffic to avoid being surprised by someone in a vehicle.
  3. Contrary to what we’ve heard often – to avoid eye contact – personal safety experts advise you to do the exact opposite. If someone is walking behind you or approaching you and you are unsure of their intent, make direct eye contact with them to let the person know that you are aware, you see them and you are not a victim.
  4. In your cell phone contacts, program “ICE,” which stands for “in case of emergency,” linking it to a family member or friend…someone you trust the police, firemen or other authorities to call if you are unable to call for yourself.
  5. Install a mirror app on your smartphone so that you can see who is behind you if you feel the need to do so.
  6. When approaching your home or vehicle, never fumble in your pocket, purse or bag for keys; have them in your hand prior to reaching the door.
  7. When approaching your parked car, look and make sure no one is hiding in or around your vehicle, especially in the back seat.
  8. When on public transportation, cover your jewelry. Turn stone rings toward the palm side of your hand.
  9. AAA and many other companies offer smartphone applications that enable motorists to request help without making a phone call.  Download them before you need the help.
  10. Keep your space: intimate space = 0 to 1.5 feet; personal space = 1.5 to 4 feet; social space = 4 to 12 feet; and public space = 12 feet or more.

The above was the real part and now for the interesting:

Read below how you have a better chance of being legally executed than dying from a dog bite.  Yes, these are United States stats.

Also, these odds are statistical averages over the entire U.S. population and do not necessarily reflect the chances of death for a particular person from a particular external cause. Odds of dying are affected by an individual’s activities, occupation, and where he or she lives and drives, among other things.

Given that the odds of dying from all possible causes are 1 in 1, worry about the ones you have some control over. Here are the lifetime odds of death for selected causes, from most likely to least:

Cause of Death Odds of Dying
Heart Disease and Cancer 1 in 7
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease 1 in 27
Intentional Self-harm 1 in 97
Unintentional Poisoning By and Exposure to Noxious Substances 1 in 103
Motor Vehicle Crash 1 in 113
Fall 1 in 133
Assault by Firearm 1 in 358
Pedestrian Incident 1 in 672
Motorcycle Rider Incident 1 in 948
Unintentional Drowning and Submersion 1 in 1,183
Exposure to Fire, Flames or Smoke 1 in 1,454
Choking from Inhalation and Ingestion of Food 1 in 3,408
Pedacyclist Incident 1 in 4,337
Firearms Discharge 1 in 7,944
Air and Space Transport Incidents 1 in 9,737
Exposure to Excessive Natural Heat 1 in 10,784
Exposure to Electric Current, Radiation, Temperature and Pressure 1 in 14,695
Contact with Sharp Objects 1 in 30,860
Cataclysmic Storm 1 in 63,679
Contact with Hornets, Wasps and Bees 1 in 64,706
Contact with Heat and Hot Substances 1 in 69,169
Legal Execution 1 in 111,439
Being Bitten or Struck by a Dog 1 in 114,622
Lightning Strike 1 in 174,426

Source: National Safety Council estimates based on data from National Center for Health Statistics–Mortality Data for 2013, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Deaths are classified on the basis of the 10th revision of the World Health Organization’s The International Classification of Diseases (ICD). For additional mortality figures, and estimated one-year and lifetime odds, see Injury Facts® 2016 Edition, pages 40-43.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, and especially during the holiday season, stay safe.

Behavior That Can Endanger You and Your Family.

We’re all guilty of it.  “It” being –  intentionally or not – exposing our private information in public.  Below are examples of this behavior that unnecessarily puts you and your family at risk.

1. Family graphics on a vehicle.

family car vinyl graphics

The criminal’s view of your adorable family stick-on:  If you have this family graphic on your vehicle, the burglar knows you have a baby in the family and therefore less inclined to fight back. Dad carrying a briefcase implies he’s the worker in the family, i.e., away during the day and or for work trips.  Given the number of children, perhaps Daddy’s wife is a soccer Mom (busy with errands), in and out on a routine (taking kids to school,  to play dates, practice, picking up kids…).  And if the dog is the same size as the cat, I’d put my money on the cat being the family protector.  This graphic is  way  TMI.

2. Responding with your date of birth, insurance carrier and or SSN in a pharmacy.

pharmacy

Discretely hand the pharmacist or pharmacy assistant your driver’s license or other form of valid government I.D. Ensure that you are fully blocking the view of the person behind you.  A bit of paranoia is preferred, especially if your medication is a desired prescription drug (e.g., Xanax, Valium, painkiller of any kind…).  If the employee behind the counter begins to comment, cut them off and ask them to respect your privacy.  Hey, it’s your info and these personal identifiers (especially DOBs and SSNs)  are extremely valuable to your local unauthorized pharmaceutical retailer.

3.  Posting photos of the family in front of the house, even if the address is not evident in the pic.

family ifo house

Most cameras and smartphones add location information to each picture taken, exposing the exact longitude and latitude of the image to anyone who wishes to view this geotagging data.  (On a positive note, social sites such as FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter automatically remove these geotags before posting. Common photo sharing sites such as Flickr, however, allow the embedded geographical information to remain.)  The pic taker/poster is often unaware of this invisible, embedded data.

How to locate and erase geotagging data:

a. Determine if your camera is geotagging your pictures. Any camera you use must have GPS enabled in order for geotagging to occur. This is very common in smartphones but many digital cameras have this capability as well. This data, called EXIF data, is invisible unless you know how to look for it.

b. To view EXIF data, go to Jeffrey’s EXIF Viewer (JEV), a very easy to use information locator that supports a wide variety of file types. JEV also  provides two different options for viewing geotagged images. The first allows you to view information from images already online. The second allows you to check images before they are posted online.  Follow the site directions. (For images stored on your computer, press Browse beside the Local Image File box. Choose the file in question and press View Image From File. You’ll receive the same geotagging info as you would for posted and on-camera photos.)

Now you know exactly what details you are providing to friends, family and potentially, strangers.  If you don’t want your location available, erase all EXIF data before posting or turn off GPS functionality when taking pictures with GPS enabled devices.

These starter tips can be helpful this summer in preserving your safety and that of your family but in all cases, just exercise common sense in unintentionally exposing your personal identifier information.

BNI Operatives; Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

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