Will “textalyzer” become a reality in fight against distracted driving?

The textalyzer may serve as a means to gather evidence to help victims who are injured in distracted driving accidents.

It is no surprise that the using a phone to send a text message, check a social media site or update a Twitter account is dangerous. Study after study has supported the contention that smartphone use while driving has resulted in an increase in distracted driving accidents.

One of the more recent studies was discussed on National Public Radio (NPR) and digs into some of these statistics. The discussion points out that there were over 40,000 people killed due to injuries in car accidents in 2016. This statistic, combined with the increase from 2015, has resulted in the biggest jump in traffic fatalities in over half a century.

This increase has caught the attention of lawmakers throughout the country. 94 percent of car crashes are the result of human error. Although a number of laws are present that are designed to deter drivers from making poor decisions while operating their vehicles, not every driver chooses to follow these laws. Some of the laws are difficult to enforce, which further encourages drivers to ignore the rules that are put in place to reduce the risk of a crash. As such, lawmakers are considering ways to help better ensure that evidence can be gathered to establish if a driver has violated distracted driving laws.

How can officers gather evidence to support that a driver was illegally using his or her phone while driving? Enter the textalyzer.

Victims of accidents face difficulties gathering evidence to support the contention that the other driver was the cause of the accident because he or she was on the phone while driving. Gathering phone records often requires a warrant, and getting a warrant generally requires approval from a judge and an array of administrative steps.

In an effort to increase accountability and ease the ability of victims to hold those who cause injury responsible for their poor choices, inventors have developed a device called the "textalyzer."

The device is intentionally named after the breathalyzer. Like the breathalyzer, this device touts timely and accurate results at the scene of the accident. It will attach to the driver's phone and provide information about what apps were open at what time. It will not download content, only general information.

Are states really considering allowing officers to use these devices?

Yes, states are looking to make these devices available to officers. New York is currently considering a proposal that would allow officers to use these devices in the field after an auto accident or collision. Proponents of the bill state that although laws are currently in place making it illegal to use handheld devices while driving, enforcement is difficult. A device like the textalyzer would allow officers to gather evidence needed to support a violation of the law.

Critics argue the information gathered by the textalyzer is an invasion of privacy.

Will California use the textalyzer?

If the law in New York passes, it is likely other states (like California) will consider similar proposals. Regardless of the presence of such a proposal, victims of these accidents have options. Legal remedies are available to help victims hold those who are responsible for the accident accountable. Contact an attorney to discuss your options.