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State legislature could adopt 'textalyzer' technology

Texting while driving is banned in California and many other states across the country. Still, distracted driving continues to be a serious threat to roadway safety, taking thousands of lives and injuring many more people every year. As a result, legislators in one state are considering technology that could allow police to determine whether a driver was using his or her cellphone at the time of a crash. This would mark the first time a state has allowed this currently untested technology to be actively used by law enforcement to determine responsibility for a crash.

Nevada legislators are proposing use of the "textalyzer" machine, a device that could be attached to a mobile phone. It would produce a report indicating whether a driver was opening a messenger app, scrolling through a message or otherwise using a phone during or immediately before a motor vehicle collision. New York legislators proposed a similar measure in 2017, but it failed before being adopted. While the device's manufacturer says that it only examines use and not personal content, privacy advocates have raised concerns that police could use the device to access personal information without a warrant.

Police say that the existing penalties for distracted driving do not do enough to discourage a dangerous practice. If the bill is passed, police would then proceed to field testing the device. It has never been used in practice by law enforcement. Opponents of the bill asked whether it was necessary as police can already seek a warrant to search a phone when investigating a crash.

Every year, thousands of people face severe injuries and lifelong disabilities as a result of distracted driving. An individual who has been injured in a car accident due to someone else's negligence can work with a personal injury lawyer to seek compensation for their damages.

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