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New tech allows cops to check for cellphone use prior to accident

There are pros and cons to technological advances. Rear view cameras in cars have helped to increase a driver's ability to monitor his or her surroundings while the vehicle is in reverse, weather satellites have resulted in more warning time for dangerous weather and cellphones have allowed for people to keep in touch with each other no matter where they are. Unfortunately, some take this last advance to the extreme, making calls, sending texts and even checking social media sites while driving. This practice isn't just dangerous, it's illegal. It is not always immediately clear if a driver was engaged in this dangerous and illegal activity prior to involvement in an accident. However, a new device may help to answer this question with a simple and quick scan.

Can't we already check phones for use after an accident?

Police can currently get information about when a phone was used, but getting this information generally requires a warrant. Officers need to follow strict protocol to get a warrant to search these phones. These requirements are present to protect against infringement of personal information. Since the search used by police officers in this situation results in the gathering of a lot of information, potentially including what and how the phone was used, this argument can make sense. A new device is offering another option.

How is this new device different?

The new device, referred to as the "Textalyzer", offers an option to bypass the warrant requirement. The scan completed by the Textalyzer does not result in any personal information. The officer does not get information about what the user was doing. The scan will not show the user's Facebook post, Instagram photo or most recent Tweet. It will simply show that the phone was used.

The device is not currently in use, but some states are considering it. According to NYC's StreetsBlog, lawmakers in New York are currently reviewing a bill that would put the device in the hands of officers in the near future.

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