When the breathalyzer was introduced decades ago, the number of drunk driving
accidents each year around the country did seem to be reduced, an obvious
positive effect of breakthrough technology. As distracted driving accidents
continue to increase year after year, as information gathered by the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates, legislators are
wondering if new technology could once again be the solution to the problem
of texting and driving. Can there be a way to tell if a driver was using
their cellphone during the moment of impact in a car accident?
As it turns out, if you give computer scientists and engineering experts
enough time, they will probably find a solution to whatever tech problem
you have. Introducing the textalyzer, an in-development device that would
collect fragments of data from cellphones at the scene of a collision
to determine if it was in use at a certain point in time. The proposed
idea, which is gaining momentum in New York particularly, is to arm police
officers with the device in their squad cars and allow them to scan the
cellphones of all drivers involved in a crash. Police notification is
already required after a major collision so that they can redirect traffic
or help victims, so law enforcement officials would not be losing any
time in this practice.
Fourth Amendment Controversy
The concept is turning heads as people fear that it would give the police
free access to their private information on their cellphones.
Cellebrite, one of the technology firms apparently at the front of textalyzer device
and application development, promises that the fears are unfounded. The
information the textalyzer collects would be just enough to know if the
phone was being used for texting, video viewing, web browsing, etc. but
nothing more; the actual specifics of what was being done, such as message
content and recipient, would not be taken.
Many are not reassured, however.
Cellebrite has been linked, without total confirmation, to the FBI’s recent
cracking of an alleged terrorist’s iPhone, which sparked another
Fourth Amendment debate (view a
Forbes online article on their site
here about it). Those against the textalyzer believe private information would
be collected and sold to the highest bidder, regardless of what the tech
Ease of Liability Establishment
At the other end of the spectrum, supporters of the textalyzer see it as
an immediate resolution to determining liability in car accidents. No
longer would you have to rely on the honesty of a negligent driver or
a court order to access their cellphone data. People struck by distracted
drivers would only need to get a copy of the police’s report of
the accident, something they already have the right to obtain.
To get more information about the textalyzer, the
New York Times has a full article that can be viewed
here. For help with a personal injury claim after you were struck by a distracted driver,
contact a Stuart car accident lawyer from Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC.