A new Wall Street Journal article discusses a bill pending in the New York legislature to allow police to immediately access the cellphones of drivers involved in accidents. The analysis would be done using a device referred to as a “textalyzer” – a term adapted from the more well-known breathalyzers used to determine a driver’s blood alcohol content when he is suspected of driving while intoxicated (DWI).
According to the Journal, 46 states currently ban texting while driving and 14 states ban the use of handheld devices while driving completely. The article notes “that in 2016, 40,000 people died on the road, a 14 percent jump from 2014 and the biggest two-year jump in 50 years.” The implication is that this jump is a result of increased numbers of drivers who are distracted by their phones and devices.
Civil liberties advocates note that people’s cellphones contain all manner of personal information that might be accessed by police following even minor fender benders. In response to this, the company behind the “textalyzer” says that its device will only determine whether a person has swiped or clicked on the phone during the time of the accident and will not download specific information about texting or browsing history.
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