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Police Are Cracking Down On Drivers Who Text Behind The Wheel With New Device

In 2015, 3,477 lives were lost and 391,000 Americans suffered injuries due to distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Unfortunately, the numbers have not gone down since.

Right now, there are still approximately 660,000 drivers who continue to break the law by using electronic devices, especially cell phones, while driving.

The Garcia Law Group

For those who have been talking, texting or browsing the web on their phones while driving, there's new information coming from lawmakers that you'll want to know.

In some of the states where distracted driving is prohibited, like Maryland, police may soon be given the green light to use a device that will help them instantly determine whether a driver is using a cellphone while their vehicle is moving.

So how does the device work?

The device, which is called a "textalyzer," works sort of like a breathalyzer, but for electronics.

"The way this is envisioned is the police don't need to look at your phone screen or touch it. They just hand you the cable. You insert the cable into the phone," explained Jim Grady, CEO of Cellebrite, the company that created the device.

As soon as the cable is plugged into the phone, it will open up a screen that displays the device's activity log, including text messages, phone calls, and apps. For privacy reasons, content will not be revealed, but the time stamp for each activity will be used to determine when you actually used the phone.

Digital Trends

So far the textalyzer is compatible with a limited number of apps, and only works with one cell phone model, but Cellebrite is working on developing custom features tailored to fit the laws in each state.

"Once there's a law that describes exactly what needs to be done, we'll develop the product and try to cover as many apps as we can right at the beginning," Grady said.

Despite the devices high potential to save lives, there are some individuals and groups that are against its use.

The American Civil Liberties Union argues that the textalyzer intrudes into a person's private life and violates the Fourth Amendment . The U.S. Supreme Court also stands by this argument at the moment.

"The question is, is there a technological solution to it? Or is the solution social? And does the law allow the particular technological solution that is being proposed here, which is asking for carte blanche for this untested and intrusive technology? And I think the answer to that is no," said David Rocah, an attorney for ALCU Maryland.

Ars Technica

However, those whose lives have changed because of distracted driving are singing a very different tune. Baltimore resident Russell Hurd lost his 26-year-old daughter, Heather, in a car crash caused by a tractor-trailer driver who was texting.

"In just a second, my whole life; my family's life was destroyed. My daughter lost her life, but we were sentenced to life," Hurd said.

So for Hurd, anything that can be used to prevent another family from losing a loved one is welcomed. "Everyone has a Heather in their life. We are trying to prevent them from being killed as well," he added.

Do you think police should start using a textalyzer? Let us know!


Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.