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Personal Injury & Medical Malpractice Blog

Sunday, May 28, 2017

NY Considers Use of “Textalyzer” To Combat Distracted Driving

What is a textalyzer and how could it help to deter texting drivers?

We have all likely witnessed other drivers looking down at their phones while driving.  With the advent of the smartphone, Americans have become glued to their mobile devices.  Many have us have become so hooked on texting, searching the web, emailing, and accessing social media that we are reluctant to put down our cell phones even while engaging in the complex and potentially dangerous task of driving.  This reliance on our phones has led to a massive national problem.  Distracted driving car accidents now claims the lives of upwards of 3,000 people each year, according to U.S. government data. 

The Textalyzer:  Doing More to Deter Texting Drivers

While most have us have spotted suspected texting drivers, the truth is that it is extremely difficult to determine whether a driver was definitely texting at the time of the crash, absent phone records.  One New York father who lost his son in a head-on accident found he had to file a lawsuit and wait six months before finally gaining access to cell phone records that showed the driver of the car that hit his son was texting.  The difficulty in holding texting drivers responsible for the accidents they cause is thought to perpetuate the cycle of texting and driving. 

Enter the textalyzer.  Much like the breathalyzer is used to detect drunk drivers, the textalyzer can be used by police officers to assess whether a person involved in an accident has recently used his or her phone.  The device is just months away from finalization, and New York is considering its implementation.  Already, a bill adopting the device has been approved in one Senate committee and is pending in another. 

Using the textalyzer, a law enforcement who suspects a driver was texting can ask the driver to use the device on his or her phone.  The driver can refuse, but could face license suspension.  The textalyzer looks only to usage of the phone, assessing whether the driver has recently texted or otherwise interacted with the device.  Data itself is not looked at in any way.  Proponents of the device believe the textalyzer could save thousands of lives each year and help injured vehicle occupants to hold distracted drivers responsible for their actions.   


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