Textalyzer allows police to view phone use before an accident

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Texting while driving has become a huge issue for road safety, to the point of massive media campaigns being released to encourage drivers to keep their eyes on the road. In legal situations, however, it can be difficult to prove a driver was in fact texting at a key moment. A company called Cellebrite has released hardware that can work around this, essentially scanning a phone to see if it was in use at a specific time (other private information is blocked out, unless a search warrant is obtained).

A co-founder of an organization called the Distracted Operators Risk Casualties said, "I have often heard there is no such thing as a breathalyzer for distracted driving — so we created one. Respecting drivers' personal privacy, however, is also important, and we are taking meticulous steps to not violate those rights."

However, the New York Civil Liberties Union has a different take on the issue. “Distracted driving is a serious public safety concern. But this solution is not tailored to the problem. The technology may in fact be scanning through the content of people’s phones and collecting data, even if that is not apparent. Even if you finely tune the technology, there are many cases where people will be fined for lawful activity. There are several ways someone could be using a phone in line with distracted driving laws that could run afoul of this test.”

It remains to be seen if this specific technology will be utilized. In any case, preventing texting while driving looks to be a complicated matter with no easily accessible full solution at the moment.

 

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