Road safety advocates say that the penalties for texting while driving are not nearly strong enough to deter motorists from indulging in behavior that kills or injures thousands of road users every year. A California assemblyman has proposed a bill that would penalize motorists who text with driver’s license points in addition to a fine, but lawmakers in Nevada are considering an alternative approach. Instead of increasing penalties, a legislative proposal being considered would allow police in the Silver State to use controversial new technology to identify drivers who may have been distracted when they crashed.

The challenge for law enforcement is that distracted drivers do not provide any obvious clues and are unlikely to admit that they were involved in an accident because they were staring at their cellphone screens. Developed by an Israeli technology company, the textalyzer can be plugged into an electronic device to reveal how it was being used in the moments leading up to a collision.

Civil liberties groups have voiced concerns about the amount of personal data gathered by technology companies, and some of them claim that the textalyzer infringes on rights against unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. The company behind the device claims that it does not access or collect any personal information, but this was not enough to convince lawmakers in New York to allow police departments in the state to use the technology when they voted on the issue in 2017.

Devices like the textalyzer are not needed to access wireless service records that could reveal how cellphones were being used at a particular time. Police officers can access this information by obtaining search warrants, and personal injury attorneys pursuing compensation for car accident victims may obtain it by issuing a subpoena.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, Text and drive in California and you could get a point on your license, Andrew Sheeler, Feb. 8, 2019