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Catching More Distracted & Inattentive Drivers With the Textalyzer

By Marc A. Johnston, posted in Car Accidents on September 26, 2017

Despite public service campaigns about the potential dangers, distracted driving continues to be a leading cause of car accidents in Portland and in other cities across the United States. While many areas have laws against the use of handheld devices, law enforcement officials must catch you in the act. Once an accident does occur, there is no way to determine if you were using it prior to a collision. There is a new device that promises to do just that, but controversy over privacy laws could prevent it from being used. 

A Breathalyzer for Your Phone

A company called Cellebrite, which uses technology to develop digital devices to aid in law enforcement forensics, recently introduced the Textalyzer. Billed as a sort of breathalyzer for your cellphone, it is a tablet like device that law enforcement officials can plug into your cell phone. It allows officers at the scene of an accident to detect if you were texting, emailing, posting to social media, or making a call in the minutes before a collision occurred.

According to a July 2017 NBC News report, the Textalyzer is close to being approved for a test run in New York, but there are serious concerns over the privacy issues it raises:

  • Supporters claim it would only indicate if a driver’s device was in use, and not the content of any texts or emails. It would also require the owner to unlock their phone before the Textalyzer could be connected.
  • Detractors point to the questionable aspects of allowing government agencies to access private phone data. There are also concerns that there could be bias involved, since it allows officers to decide in which situations to use it.

As the current system stands, if police suspect distracted driving is a factor in a car accident, they can get a warrant compelling the cellphone service provider to release records. Advocates claim these records are not enough, as they fail to provide information on internet-based activities.  

Oregon Distracted Driving Accidents

According to the latest statistics from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), car accidents involving distracted driving have become tragically common, occurring on average once every three hours somewhere throughout the state. In response to the problem, a ban against hand held devices is set to go into effect in October of 2017, making it illegal to drive while holding a cell phone, tablet, or any other device. While drivers still face being dangerously distracted behind the wheel when using hands free devices, proponents claim it is a major step in bringing down the total number of injuries and fatalities that currently occur without the ban in place.

If you or someone you care about has been injured as the result of a distracted driving accident, contact the Johnston Law Firm. Our Portland car accident lawyer provides the aggressive legal representation you need to hold at fault drivers accountable for their actions, so you can get compensation for the damages you have suffered. Call or contact our office online today and request a consultation in our Portland office to see how we can assist you.

Marc Johnston
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