Could Pennsylvania benefit from the “textalyzer”?

A new device could help law enforcement officers determine whether or not a Pennsylvania driver was distracted at the time of an accident.

Distracted driving is proven to be deadly. In Pennsylvania alone, the activity was associated with 49 fatal crashes in 2014, according to a report from the state's Department of Transportation. A distracted driver was also considered to be the contributing factor in 13,964 accidents that same year.

It is astounding that despite the statistics, people continue to use phones and engage in other distractions while driving. Those other distractions include interacting with passengers, changing the radio station and even eating.

While there are no laws against some of those items, nearly every state across the country has enacted some form of legislation regarding one: the phone. This is intended to prevent people from endangering others for the sake of spending a few moments responding to a text. Now, new technology could help investigators determine whether or not a driver was on his or her phone prior to an accident.

The textalyzer

Many people may already be familiar with the Breathalyzer, which is a patented device used to detect the breath alcohol concentration of a driver. An April 2017 report from NPR announced the textalyzer, which would enable law enforcement officers to plug into someone's phone to analyze recent usage.

Obtaining someone's phone records are often difficult to obtain. The textalyzer could hypothetically return much quicker results. According to the device's developers, it produces not only where the phone's user was spending time, such as which applications were open, but also offer information about any tapping or swiping that occurred.

Opponents are concerned that the textalyzer would infringe upon people's civil liberties and privacy rights, though its inventors claim that no personal information would be downloaded. Already, NPR notes, lawmakers in New York, New Jersey and Tennessee have shown interest in the device.

Current law

Distracted driving laws vary from state to state. In Pennsylvania, no driver is permitted to use an interactive wireless communication device while driving. That includes doing the following:

· Texting

· Instant messaging

· Emailing

Essentially, engaging in any type of written communication is considered a primary offense for which a driver may be fined. Of course, as illustrated by the statistics, a fine is often the least of the consequences associated with distracted driving.

Legal recourse

Following a car accident, victims have the right to seek legal recourse. For many people, this may involve little more than filing a claim with an insurance company. However, those claims do not always compensate someone for their total loss. In those cases, it is possible to file a lawsuit. Pennsylvania law states that when filing a lawsuit, people must initiate the claim within two years of the date of the incident. Failing to do so could mean losing the right to collect damages, such as compensation for property loss, physical injury and emotional suffering.

Anyone who has concerns about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney in Pennsylvania.