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Identifying distracted driving as a factor in crashes

Authorities in New Jersey might eventually have a tool to identify distracted driving caused by cellphone usage. In the past, this has been difficult to establish, but now a device, informally called a textalyzer, is in development. The device could change the way police are able to establish when a driver had been using a cellphone illegally just prior to a crash.

With fatal car accidents increasing, authorities are looking for ways to identify when a driver causes an accident after using a cellphone for texting and other social media interactions. The textalyzer will work similarly to a breathalyzer. With a cable attached to the driver's cellphone, police will be able to identify the social media apps used just before a crash, as well as the swipes and taps made on the phone during this time.

The problem in the past is that to try to establish this, police would need to get a warrant to request the driver's phone records, which was not always practicable. Even then, the records would be limited to texting and calling and did not provide information about the social media sites used just prior to the car accident. Developers of the textalyzer have said that the device would be tailored to fit the laws of each state that adopts its use. There is, however, concern by some groups that the access to personal information provided by the device to the authorities could result in both privacy and civil liberties violations.

As it stands, distracted driving is a leading cause of auto collisions. Occupants of other vehicles who have been injured in such a crash may want to meet with a lawyer to see how they can seek compensation for the losses that they have incurred.

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