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Can "textalyzers" help curb distracted driving?

Distracted driving is now at epidemic levels across America. There were an estimated 40,000 traffic fatalities last year alone, a six percent increase from 2015. Furthermore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports over 391,000 injuries in traffic accidents last year alone caused by distracted driving (driving while texting, talking on cellphones, surfing the web, using apps or updating social networks).

Experts say that the rise in accidents directly correlates to the increasing amount of technology available to drivers.

Hope for the future

Lawmakers across the country have passed laws banning cellphone use and/or texting behind the wheel in an attempt to slow the tide of drivers paying more attention to their devices than the road ahead. Sadly, though, for the most part, these statutes have been unsuccessful at deterring distracted driving. It seems that the threat of a ticket simply isn't enough to convince drivers to give up their devices.

A technology company may have a more effective, revolutionary approach. Cellebrite, a global digital intelligence business, created a device that can easily determine if a cellphone was used in the moments before a crash. Known as a "textalyzer," the machine plugs into the driver's cellphone and takes a brief snapshot of its activity a short time before the crash. The information pulled from the phone will show, for example:

  • Whether text messages were sent or read just prior to the crash;
  • What apps or screens were open at the time of the accident;
  • If the driver was talking on the phone when the vehicle crashed (either incoming or outgoing calls); and
  • If the phone was using data (to surf the web or update social networks) at the time.

So far, only New York has taken legislative action to equip law enforcement agencies with these devices. Lawmakers in New Jersey, New Hampshire, Illinois and here in Tennessee have expressed interest in potentially adopting them in the future, however. The use of these devices would of course raise some Fourth Amendment questions as to when law enforcement could use such a device to discover information contained in a driver's phone.

Only time will tell if so-called "textalyzers" will be successful in the fight against distracted driving. In the meantime, if you or someone you love is hurt in an accident caused by a distracted driver, reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case.

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