The dangers of distracted driving are no secret. Driving without your full attention on the road can have serious, life-threatening consequences, which has lead lawmakers to crack down on distracted drivers across the U.S.. Given our modern world’s attachment to phone usage, it isn’t surprising that the cause of most driver distractions are linked to phone usage. To better determine whether or not a driver was using his or her phone before a crash, Ben Lieberman introduced the “Textalyzer.”
After his son was killed in a car accident in 2011, Lieberman had to wait over 6 months to find out that the driver of the car responsible for his son’s death was texting and driving. Lieberman believed this information should be more easily accessible, and partnered with Cellebrite, a tech company that developed the technology to measure phone usage. The device, named the “Textalyzer,” can be plugged into a phone and will immediately determine whether or not it was used via tap, swipe, or click at the time of the crash. It can report specific times, giving the person in charge of the device a comprehensive record of when the phone was last used in relation to the timing of the accident.
While some people have objected to the device, arguing it violates personal privacy, Cellebrite says their software takes no data from the phone, but only determines when it was used. The only way the device would be able to access phone data is if it were completely reprogramed. The idea is that a police officer on the scene of a crash would be able to use the device on the driver’s phone, determine whether or not it was used, and proceed from there. If the phone was used right before the time of the crash, the officer can then obtain a warrant for the phone, and continue the investigation as the police department normally would.
Cellebrite says their technology will be finished and ready for use in early 2018. There is a bill proposing this device be used much like a breathalyzer, in that the driver will be asked by an officer to turn their phone over for a screening by the device. If they refuse, they would likely face license suspension, just as when a person refuses a chemical test in a possible DUI. It would adopt the idea that, like with DUI, when a driver obtains a driver’s license he or she assumes the responsibility to drive without distraction, and can therefore be asked to test for distraction if it is suspected.
New York is seriously considering the bill, as are Tennessee, New Jersey, and Illinois, according to NBC Connecticut.
For more about this device and the corresponding legislation, click here.