'Textalyzer' would reveal if driver was texting before crash

- You’ve likely hear of breathalyzers, but have you heard of a textalyzer?  Driving safety advocates across the country are anxious to learn more about it.

“It shook us to the core,” says Ben Lieberman. His son, 19-year-old Evan Lieberman, of New York, was killed 5 years ago by a driver who was texting.

“We subpoenaed the phone records through our own civil lawsuits,” Lieberman says. “It took us 6 months to get those phone records and we found the texting throughout the drive leading up to the crash.”

Evan’s parents have worked closely with New York lawmakers who are now pushing a bill known as Evan’s Law. If it passes, the bill would allow officers to carry a new tool called a textalyzer.

The texalyzer technology has not been physically developed yet, but the idea behind it is an officer would carry some sort of device  that when close to your cell phone could read whether or not a text has been sent without reading the context of that text.

“At least someone is trying to do something, but once again this is after the fact,” Jon Cummings with Minnesotans for Safe Driving says. 
               
Cummings believes more needs to be done to prevent drivers from texting and driving in the first place.
               
“It's kind of sad we have to pass all these laws and invent all these things to save ourselves from ourselves,” Cummings says. 

The idea does not come without controversy. Defense attorney Derek Hansen and his firm have worked to fight the privacy concerns surrounding breathalyzers when someone is caught drinking and driving. Hansen says the textalyzer should at least require a search warrant.

“The United States Supreme Court is reviewing an analogous case to this for blood and urine case to DWIs,” Hansen says. “And I don't think it's much of a logical leap to say my phone and the context of my phone are as intimate, maybe even more intimate than a blood, urine or breath test.”

According the the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, a third of drivers  on the road admit to texting while driving and and in 2015, distractions were blamed for 74 people losing their lives.

“It's just common sense,” Cummings says. "When you are driving you should be looking where you are going.  We shouldn't' even be talking about this.”

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