As an increasing number of severe and deadly car accidents are linked to distracted driving in California and across the country, lawmakers in one state are considering a technology that could show if a driver was using the phone during a crash. Most states already ban texting, emailing or surfing the internet while driving, but many drivers continue to engage in these dangerous practices. Nevada legislators are considering permitting police to use a so-called "textalyzer" to determine if a driver was using a phone before or during a collision.
Opponents have raised concerns about the technology's practicality and the potential for privacy violations. A similar proposal was introduced in New York's state legislature but failed in 2017 despite growing concerns over distracted driving dangers. Proponents of the bill argue that there is no mechanism to systematically hold distracted drivers accountable for collisions they cause, unlike drunk drivers. They also argue that the penalties currently applied to distracted drivers do little to discourage dangerous activity.
The device, which has not been tested in the field and is not used by any police agency, connects to a phone. There, it scans for user activity such as the opening of a texting app or messenger program. If the law is passed, it would begin the process toward field testing of the device. Opponents have raised concerns about whether the software would allow police to access personal content without a warrant, urging that the code of the software be released to public scrutiny.
Distracted driving takes thousands of lives and injures many more across the country every year. People who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents caused by someone else's negligent driving may consult with a personal injury lawyer about pursuing compensation for their damages, including pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages.