Distracted driving is a major cause of or contributing factor to car accidents. And while many believe that distracted driving is underreported, even the reported statistics are grim. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 3,450 distraction-related car accident deaths nationwide in 2016, about 14 percent of which involved cellphone use. Alabama is among the majority of states to ban texting while driving, but handheld use of a cellphone behind the wheel remains legal.
In many ways, distracted driving is like drunk driving. But safety advocates note that when a serious or fatal crash occurs, it is much easier to prove that a crash was alcohol related, and the at-fault driver is likely to face much harsher consequences. Should police be testing for cellphone use after a crash, and will that make distracted driving as socially unacceptable as drunk driving has become?
This is the idea behind legislation currently being considered in Nevada and New York. In Nevada, lawmakers are proposing a bill that would let police officers utilize a device known as a “textalyzer,” which reportedly searches a phone for evidence of certain user activity like typing and swiping. The company behind the device claims that no other personal data is accessed or stored.
There are, of course, privacy and Fourth Amendment concerns about any new technology that allows law enforcement to access personal data. And the textalyzer would likely require much more independent scrutiny before it could be put to widespread use. But assuming that the device is as un-intrusive as the company claims, its use could be a powerful weapon in the fight against distracted driving. It could also help victims and families pursue personal injury and wrongful death litigation after a serious or fatal crash.
Devices like the textalyzer may not be in use yet, but there are other ways to gather evidence against an at-fault driver following a car accident. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a suspected distracted driver, please share your concerns with an experienced personal injury attorney.