There was a time when most car crashes and ensuing casualties were caused by drunk driving. Breathalyzer was introduced and cases of drunk driving accidents came down dramatically. But, there is a lurking threat which has caused a substantial number of accidents over the last few years. It is texting while driving. The authorities in the US and other countries have issued several warnings and brought the offenders to books. Unfortunately, in spite of all these efforts, the use of mobile phone while driving continues to cause crashes and fatalities. In fact, the numbers have only spiked lately.
Various government and non-government bodies have also carried out awareness campaigns to dissuade people from using their mobiles while driving, especially text messaging while driving. But, it looks like mobile is an addiction one cannot easily rid of, especially when the chances of getting caught are small. This is the reason why there is a need to take some serious measures. There must be an effective system that can prevent the cases of distracted driving.
What if there was something that could catch those who text while driving just like Breathalyzer catches the drunk drivers? The good news is there is a tool called Textalyzer and many states in the USA are already considering its implementation.
What is Textalyzer- Let’s Understand it Better
Textalyzer is not intrusive as many have thought. It does not intercept your text messages that you may have sent while driving. It is a device that can tell whether you used your phone during a specific period of time. For this, it must be physically connected to your device. When the law enforcement has to determine if someone was drunk driving, they would have the driver pull over the car. They would then ask the driver to blow the breath into the breathalyzer machine. The machine will show the alcohol content in the breath. In a similar way, Textalyzer machine is plugged into your device and tells if the phone was swiped within a particular timeframe or if the driver sent any text message.
Please note that Textalyzer tool has not been put to use officially. But, there is a rumor that in some states it is being tested. Many are still raising the concern that the device is a direct breach of privacy as it scans your device and pulls out the information. The others are questioning its operational viability and accuracy. What if the driver pulled over before using the phone or sending the text message? Honestly, we don’t have answers to all these questions because the machine is yet to be put to official use. But, it looks like it can prevent many accidents if implemented correctly. It will discourage motorists from texting while driving.
Concerns of Privacy Breach
As we briefly discussed, Textalyzer is being seen as an invasive tool that will directly breach the privacy of the citizens. Many claims that this is one of the attempts of the government to sneak further into the lives of individuals. There are some privacy rights bodies that are concerned that Textalyzer tool will give the right to the law enforcement to read the personal information of the individuals. Many are not completely against the use of Textalyzer for they believe it can bring down the cases of text-driving accidents quite substantially. However, they are also of the opinion that there must be strict legislation around it and proper measures should be taken to make sure that the citizens right to privacy is not breached.
Textalyzer tool has been designed by an Israeli company called Cellebrite. The company claims that their device does not violate anyone’s rights to privacy. This is because Textalyzer does not pull out any content from the phone. It only tracks the taps and swipes. Since it is directly coming from the company’s spokespeople and not any third-party, many are still reluctant to believe their claims.
As per the Associated Press, this device can do more than just reading the tracks and swipes. It is also capable of revealing the list of most recently accessed apps and the other activities. In fact, if the user sent any text message, Textalyzer will also detect the source of the message, the time stamp as well as the number to which it was sent.
Although the device has been tested, it is still under development. Many enhancements are due and thus it looks like it will not be available for use for many months. The controversy around Textalyzer is largely limited as it hasn’t been brought to official use to the public. But, the day it is approved and put into use on the general public, it is certain to spark more serious controversies and debates.
What Would be the Laws Around the Use of TextAlyzer
Since no legislation has passed yet, no one is in the position to state the exact laws around the use of TextAlyzer. But, it is quite certain it will involve a certain “penal-system.” For instance, the first time offender will be left with a warning or probably a small fine. The repeat offender may have to pay a bigger fine or could even have their license revoked. There is a chance they may have to do community service for a specific period.
The law enforcement will have the right to stop the motorist and scan their mobile phone. However, the police will have to first inform the user that their mobile phone will be scanned. If the driver refuses to submit to the phone test, their license may get revoked. The police will not be able to scan the device without the user’s approval. If the phone is locked with, the user will have to authenticate to allow police access to the device.
Will Textalyzer Reduce Distracted Driving
There is barely any doubt in the minds of even the opponents of TextAlyzer that it can bring down the cases of text-driving crashes. It will discourage the users from using their mobile phones while driving. There is a clear law in several countries that completely or partially ban the use of mobile phone while driving. And yet, we continue to see more and more such accidents. On the other hand, individual’s privacy is another serious matter that the government cannot take lightly. This is why they will have to find a way to successfully implement this technology without compromising the privacy of the citizens. If the government is able to find such a way, we have no reason to think why anyone would have any problem with it.