Anyone who’s been on the road has seen the effects of texting while driving. You may have even experienced them yourself: drifting into another lane, not seeing the light change, slamming on the brakes to keep from rear-ending the car ahead. Texting is prohibited in most states now, yet distraction due to using mobile devices is beginning to catch up with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in terms of causing accidents.
It’s not just texting, either. Reading emails, viewing Facebook, or any number of actions involving paying more attention to a mobile device than the road is a distraction. Now there is a new technology in the works to curtail the habit.
While texting may be prohibited and at fault for many accidents, it is difficult to prove that a driver was texting or using a mobile device at the time the accident occurred. This new device would close that gap. Using the textalyzer, law enforcement officers would be able to find out if a phone or mobile device had been used illegally while the person was driving.
How Does the Textalyzer Work?
Knowing what happened in the moments before an accident is critical in helping to determine the cause. The textalyzer would answer the question as to whether or not illegal cellphone use was involved. While the jury is still out on whether or not this device should be used, its development continues in response to the rising number of accidents caused by distracted drivers – mainly distracted by illegal cellphone use.
Without needing to surrender the phone, the driver’s usage is checked when the police officer attaches a cord connecting the phone and the textalyzer. At the touch of a button, the device processes information and, within less than two minutes, shows the last activities on the phone. Text messages as well as other activities will show, complete with time stamp.
The device differentiates between incoming calls and outgoing calls. It can also show the source of the call or app. This technology may prove very helpful in determining fault in accidents.
Just knowing that such a device is available for use will be a deterrent for some people. For others, nothing will stop them from doing what they do. And, of course, such technology brings a host of issues into question.
The Textalyzer and Civil Rights
There are some civil libertarians and privacy advocates who take issue with this technology. The idea that police can take a person’s phone and search it does not sit well. There is also the possibility that what the device detects does not actually capture what happened.
The New York State Committee on Transportation passed a bill granting law enforcement officers the right to use this technology at the scene of an accident. Sponsored by Terrence Murphy, the purpose of the bill is to “increase enforcement of existing prohibition on the use of mobile telephones and/or personal electronic devices while driving through the creation of a field test that law enforcement may conduct at the scene of the accident.”
The New York Civil Liberties Union put out a statement in April addressing the bill for textalyzer use. “Distracted driving is a serious concern, and that’s why we already have laws that allow police to access phones and phone records when they need to. But this bill gives police power to take and search peoples’ phones — which contain our most personal, private information — at every fender bender. We don’t yet know if Textalyzers can even detect distracted driving. But we are certain that enforcing this proposed law would violate people’s privacy and could potentially impute guilt for innocent activities.”
Cellebrite, the Israeli company creating the device, has not fully developed it yet. The device is expected to make its debut on the market early next year. New York is not the only state interested in the device. Various states suffering great increases in vehicle accidents due to distracted driving are also considering proposals for such legislation.
Is the Textalyzer Really Necessary?
The sheer number of accidents due to distracted driving, in particular those related to using cellphone and mobile devices, ought to heighten people’s awareness and encourage them to stop texting while driving. However, that is definitely not the case as accident numbers continue to increase.
The National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) provides nationwide data regarding drivers and use of electronic devices. The survey is conducted annually by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. One of the findings in the survey is that the highest use of manipulating a handheld device while driving occurs with drivers in the 16 – 24 year-old age range.
Overall 2.2% of all drivers are distracted with cellphones or other electronic devices. When you consider that nearly 3,500 people annually lose their lives unnecessarily because of distracted driving, most of which is due to texting, it seems logical to make a case for textalyzer use.
The truth is, the Breathalyzer doesn’t keep people from drinking and driving. Nor will textalyzer technology stop people from texting or otherwise using mobile devices while driving. What it will do is deter some people from the habit. For those who are involved in accidents, it may prove helpful for law enforcement.
Until individuals realize the danger they are putting themselves and others in when they text while driving and make a decision to stop doing it, thousands of lives will be changed through injuries and others will be lost unnecessarily.
Families who have been touched by the destruction caused by distracted driving need compassionate, diligent legal representation for a fair and timely resolution to the resulting challenges they face. Matthew Lopez Law, PLLC provides that guidance and assistance to help minimize the suffering that must be endured. Contact us for your legal needs.