You’ve just left work and are heading to meet your friends for happy hour. While driving down the street you hear the beep of your cellphone – a text. You glance down and see the message from your friend asking if you’re on the way. Can’t hurt to quickly let her know, right? You tap out a quick reply and miss the pedestrian that just stepped out in front of you. As his body smashes against your windshield you look on in shock, mind reeling. You weren’t drinking or speeding so the cops won’t be able to cite you for anything, right? But what if they could tell that you had been texting right before the crash?
This possibility may become a reality in the near future. Various states including New York are researching a new technology that would allow police to search a driver’s phone for evidence of phone use prior to an accident. The Israel-based company Cellebrite is developing a machine called a “textalyzer” which is designed to extract information from your cellphone to determine phone use in the time preceding an accident. This extraction would happen at the scene of the accident, similar to how police administer a breathalyzer test to suspected intoxicated drivers now.
According to the National Safety Council, texting and driving causes 1,600,000 car accidents per year and makes a driver 23 times more likely to crash. Although the “textalyzer” technology is not yet ready, New York and a handful of other states are already discussing it to curb the large number of accidents resulting from distracted driving. New York’s Governor Cuomo has asked the Traffic Safety Committee to consider the benefits of equipping police with this device.
In fact, a bill authorizing police to use the textalyzer in New York has already passed out of committee and is pending in another. States see the new technology as an incentive to keep drivers focused on the roads much like breathalyzers have discouraged people from drinking and driving.
The textalyzer technology does raise some questions regarding violation of privacy and possibilities of abuse. Police normally require a search warrant to search a person’s cellphone but the textalyzer, if approved, would allow police to plug a cable in to the cellphone at the scene of the accident and view data relating to the driver’s use. While there is no question that distracted driving is a concern, privacy advocates believe that state lawmakers must consider balancing this public safety issue with an individual’s constitutional right to privacy.
Fatal traffic accidents have increased in recent years with close to 40,000 across the U.S. last year. A significant number of those accidents were caused by distracted driving. While many states, including California, have passed laws restricting the use of hand-held devices while driving, these laws are difficult for police to enforce. If drivers know the police can tell they were texting prior to an accident, this could curb the use and help improve compliance with the laws.
If you or a member of your family has been severely injured or killed because of the negligence of someone else, contact Alexander Law Group, LLC. Our exceptional personal injury lawyers will be sure you get the maximum compensation possible. Call 888.777.1776, or contact us online.