Kline Legal Group P.L.C.

Device may identify drivers distracted by phones

Michigan motorists who use their phones while driving and cause crashes as a result may be more easily identified if a tool known as the "textalyzer" comes into widespread use by law enforcement. Inspired by the Breathalyzer, the textalyzer can be attached to a phone. In just a few moments, it can identify the last actions of the driver on the phone, such as texting or swiping on apps, and whether that action was hands-free.

While most states have laws against texting and driving and using cellphones in other ways that may be distracting, these laws can be difficult to enforce. Drivers who cause accidents may not be truthful about how it happened. The man who formed the advocacy group that developed the device lost his son in an accident with a driver who was texting. The driver first said he had dozed off. Police could not examine the phone without a search warrant, and it took the father six months to get the phone records in a subpoena. However, even those do not necessarily indicate when a person is browsing online or using email.

Privacy advocates have expressed concern about the devices. However, traffic fatalities are rising, and in 2016, there was a 6 percent increase compared to the previous year. Phone distractions are a leading cause of this rise.

Some car accidents may occur in which a driver is at fault but there is no criminal prosecution. However, there may be enough for a civil lawsuit in which the burden of proof is lower. People who are injured in a motor vehicle accident might want to file a civil lawsuit if they have been offered too little compensation by the insurance company. They may want to have the help of an attorney in doing so.

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