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New technology could detect texting while driving

A company has created a prototype of a text alyzer device, and a proposed bill before lawmakers in New York could authorize police to use it to search drivers' phones after car crashes. The technology connects to a phone and enables law enforcement to examine recent activities such as texting, application usage and incoming and outgoing calls. The device could collect evidence indicating that a phone distracted a driver before a crash.

Defenders of personal privacy warn that such technology could grant police the power to search people's phones after even minor accidents. Safety advocates, however, argue that the technology could put teeth into the largely unenforceable laws against phone usage while driving.

The head of the National Safety Council and relatives of people killed in distracted driving crashes believe that the rising death toll on the country's road justify the invasion of privacy. Traffic fatalities increased by 6 percent in 2016 from the previous year with a total of almost 40,000 people perishing in accidents.

Textalyzer technology could reduce barriers to collecting evidence about negligent behavior and help victims hold reckless drivers accountable for their actions. In the current legal environment, an attorney who represents victims of motor vehicle accidents might only have access to a driver's phone records after getting a search warrant unless the driver actually admits to using the phone at the time of the crash. To help an injured victim recover financial damages, an attorney could use the police report, witness testimony and reports from accident reconstruction specialists as evidence in a potential personal injury lawsuit. If an insurance company makes a settlement offer that is inadequate, the lawsuit might proceed.

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