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Legislators debate device to track distracted driving crashes

Thousands of people in New Jersey and across the country are injured or even killed each year in crashes linked to distracted driving. While most states have outlawed texting or surfing the internet while driving, distraction continues to pose a major threat to roadway safety. As a result, legislators in one state are considering adopting a still-untested technology that could allow police to determine whether a driver was using a mobile phone during or immediately prior to a crash.

Nevada legislators are debating a proposal to use the "textalyzer" machine. A similar bill was introduced in 2017 in the New York state legislator, but it failed there over privacy objections as well as concerns about feasibility. No law enforcement agency has yet made use of the device and it has not yet been tested in the field. The machine would be connected to a mobile phone after a crash to test whether messenger apps were opened or other activity was taking place at the time of the motor vehicle accident. The manufacturer claims that it only takes note of activity times rather than personal information.

Police say that the existing penalties, typically tickets and fines, do not do enough to discourage distracted driving. Proponents of the legislation also argue that the use of a clear technological device has vastly improved accountability for accidents caused by drunk driving. On the other hand, opponents have warned that the software must be fully inspected to address privacy concerns or noted that police can already obtain warrants to examine mobile phones.

Distracted driving is a major menace to roadway safety, and car accidents linked to distraction often lead to catastrophic injuries. A personal injury lawyer could help someone hurt in a crash to pursue compensation for damages.

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