Driving and Texting? Watch out for a Textalyzer

Driving and Texting
By Ben Hartwig
09 October, 2018

Is it a bird, is it a plane, no, it’s a textalyzer! You’ve heard of a breathalyzer but have you heard about the new textalyzer? A new device and proposed law could have you cowering in the corner when the cops stop you for driving and texting. Advocacy groups like the Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs) are pushing the new legislation as part of their work to prevent driver-distracted accidents and save lives.

Driving and Texting Facts in the U.S.

Do you want to hear a staggering statistic? Even with all the hands-free laws in various states, at any given time, approximately 600,000 Americans are still using their cell phones while driving.

Meanwhile distracted driving and serious, sometimes fatal accidents are the result. Some additional scary stats on texting and driving are:

  • 1.6 million accidents per year are caused by driving and texting.
  • Texting and driving causes 390,000 injuries per year.
  • An alarming 1 in 4 accidents is related to driving and texting.
  • You are six times more likely to get into a crash while texting than if you are drunk.
  • 94% of people support banning texting while driving.
  • 74% support a complete cell phone ban while driving.
  • Texting causes you to take your eyes off the road for a whopping 400% increase over any other distracted action.
  • 21% of teen deaths in car accidents were due to texting and driving.
  • Teens are four times as likely to text while driving and get into an accident.

What is a Textalyzer – Myth or Reality?

A textalyzer is a real device, developed by an Israeli company called Cellebrite who specializes in data extraction. Basically, the device works using current phone-scraping technology that law enforcement employs to grab information off criminal’s phones for evidence. According to supporters of the bill, the texalyzer does not invade the privacy of the user and collects no personal data; it merely determines whether or not the mobile device was in use at the time of the accident.

However, be warned, if your phone was found to be in use, they can then dig deeper using the textalyzer and grab more detailed information. Even scarier, the new bill gives police “implied consent” to search your phone using this new device. Because no data is mined off the phone initially, supporters claim your Fourth Amendment rights are safe and sound.

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) does not trust this technology and is worried that it could be misused or even show false positives for innocent people. They argue forcefully that existing legal channels are sufficient for obtaining phone records from these companies about texts and calls at the time of the accident. Law enforcement claims that it is difficult to get those records and not fast enough to process car accidents. Ben Lieberman the man pushing the hardest to enact this law in New York lost a son to texting and driving.

Consequences of Texting While Driving

Unfortunately, distracted driving is a big problem in America and one that isn’t going away quickly. Even with the threat of severe consequences, U.S. drivers are unwilling to let go of their mobile phones even for the time it takes to drive to work or the store. It seems that even knowing about the consequences, American’s are still stubborn about their mobiles.

The likelihood of someone getting into a car accident while texting and driving is very high but even worse; they could also seriously hurt someone else. There have been horror stories of pedestrians walking or biking run over and killed by someone texting and driving, thus there are many campaigns calling out to take the pledge to Drive Distraction Free and are designed to spread awareness 

You must have seen the TV commercials by now showing a disabled teen who got into an accident while texting and is now permanently brain damaged or in a wheelchair or worse. You would think these scary images would quell the burning desire to keep tweeting, texting and calling while driving but so far, it hasn’t slowed the fire.

Although the textalyzer seems kind of extreme, it might just take that kind of in-your-face, privacy invasion for people to start getting it, texting and driving kills.

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