Can technology prove distracted driving allegations?

In a personal injury trial, demonstrating how another driver’s actions violated applicable traffic rules or conditions might raise a presumption of negligence. Additional evidence of impairment, such as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, might serve to strengthen that presumption. According to a recent article, distracted driving victims might soon have another investigative tool in their arsenal: the “Textalyzer.”

The device, which could plug into police officers’ smartphones, would reveal whether drivers had been on their smartphones around the time of a crash. True, that information might already be accessible to a party who requests cell phone records pursuant to civil discovery. Our personal injury law firm is well acquainted with such procedures. 

Yet not every cell phone company or service provider might comply with discovery requests, as was the case in a recent dispute over the FBI’s attempt to compel Apple to provide access to certain types of smartphone data. In addition, what gives the Textalyzer a leg up is its convenience: officers can obtain this information at the scene of a crash.

It’s unclear whether the device would be able to distinguish between the types of cell phone use, such as texting and driving, having a telephone conversation, or surfing the web. For some safety commentators, however, the distinction might lack any significance. According to the National Safety Council, the distraction posed by cell phone use while driving seems constant regardless of whether the device is handheld or hands-free.

At present, a bill to equip police officers with Textalzyers is pending in only one state’s legislature, and the legality of the related privacy implications is unclear. Until the law changes, our personal injury law firm will utilize existing strategies to build a strong case for crash victims.

Source: Fortune, "Forget the Breathalyzer, Meet the 'Textalyzer’," Don Reisinger, April 12, 2016

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