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States consider device that checks cellphone use after accident

Data regarding whether cellphones were a factor in motor vehicle accidents may be improved in Ohio if a new technology that checks phone activity is widely adopted by law enforcement. Nevada and New York are two states where the legislature has considered a device called the "textalyzer."

The textalyzer can be attached to a mobile phone to see what kind of user activity has occurred. The Israeli-based company that created the device says it does not store personal information, but it has not been field-tested. Furthermore, privacy advocates have raised concerns about its use. The original proposal before the Nevada legislature allowed a person's license to be suspended if the person refused to allow law enforcement to use the device on the phone, but it has been amended to say that a search warrant will be required if a person refuses. In 2017, the New York legislature rejected a measure that would have put the device in use, but it is once more under consideration.

The device would address the challenge faced by law enforcement of determining whether an accident was caused by cellphone usage. At present, law enforcement generally must rely on self-reporting, and this is not always reliable. Many experts believe that the number of accidents caused by cellphone use is underestimated as a result.

Determining whether a person caused an accident because of being distracted by a cellphone could be important for people who are injured in the accident. People who are responsible for motor vehicle accidents that injure others may be liable for the person's expenses related to the accident. A person who is injured in an accident might want to contact an attorney to discuss how to pursue compensation. The driver who is responsible may be underinsured, or the driver's insurance company may simply make an inadequate offer for compensation.

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