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'Textalyzer' bill leads to privacy concerns

Distracted driving is a growing issue on Georgia roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that 3,450 people died in distraction-related car crashes in 2016. Of these crashes, 14 percent involved cellphones. Distracted driving is also an under-reported phenomenon since many drivers do not admit their negligence to the police.

However, there is a device called the "textalyzer" that may allow police to determine if a driver was using his or her cellphone prior to a crash. It checks for user activity, such as the opening of a Facebook messenger call screen, without accessing or storing personal content. New York proposed a measure allowing its use back in 2017, but this failed. Now, Nevada has proposed a similar measure and has raised several concerns.

Some say the textalyzer violates the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure. Other groups are concerned that the measure is largely unnecessary. The proposal requires police to obtain a warrant to check phones if the drivers refuse, yet police already have this right to check phones with a warrant.

If the bill is passed, the textalyzer may enter the field testing stage. Some groups recommend that the technology be open sourced so that the public may see for itself that it does not access personal content.

Distracted driving is a form of negligence. When it is behind a car accident, an injured victim may be able to file a claim. In Georgia, a plaintiff can recover damages as long as their degree of fault is less than that of the defendant's. That degree of fault will naturally lower how much they are eligible for. With a lawyer, a victim may strive for the highest settlement possible. If negotiations fall through, they may prepare for litigation.

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