Every day, an estimated 9 people are killed, and 1000 people are injured in car accidents where distracted driving was a factor.  There are many causes of distracted driving, including being under the influence of alcohol or simply changing a radio station, but mobile phone usage is becoming an area of increasing severity.  When you consider that it takes only 3 seconds for a distracted driver to cause an accident, the use of a smartphone while driving puts everyone on the road at potential risk of injury or loss of life. 

In one case in the UK, a driver was sending WhatsApp messages immediately before an accident, resulting in the death of a man and the permanent paralysis of another. The data from the driver’s mobile phone, lead to an appropriate charge and conviction, that was increased mid-trial due to its severity.

To read more about this case click here.

To combat the use of mobile phones while driving in the US, most states have passed laws requiring hands-free usage. If the driver is spotted by law enforcement with a phone in hand, currently the offense only results in a fine.  Mobile service providers have been urged to add a driving feature which will notify someone sending a message that the recipient is driving and cannot respond.  To date, only Apple has added this feature that can easily be turned off by the owner of the phone.

Among young driver’s, mobile phone usage while driving has become an epidemic, causing more fatalities than drunk driving.  As alarming as this might be, experts fear that the number of distracted driving accidents, because of mobile phone usage, is severely underreported since there is no way to prove if someone was distracted by using a phone.  This may change with US states currently weighing legislation to allow the searching of mobile phones for actions leading up to and at the time of an accident.  

The Textalyzer, created by Cellebrite, can help law enforcement prove that a driver was using their mobile phone while driving, and could have been a factor in an accident.  Privacy advocates express concern as to what type of data could be extracted, but the Textalyzer only identifies a user’s activity and what type of activity was performed when. 

If a driver was using the hands-free option to talk via their mobile phone, the Textalyzer would also be able to determine that.  Much like the breathalyzer, from which the device received its name, its two prime use cases are for situations where either there is a suspicion of distracted driving or at the scene of an accident.

A recent article talks about legislation that would introduce the use of the Textalyzer currently under consideration in New York. Upon a positive outcome for the solution, other states could potentially soon to follow with similar decisions. If the mentioned legislation is passed, Law Enforcement would be empowered with a powerful tool to help combat against the rise of distracted driving and would be able to prevent unnecessary injuries and fatalities that resulted from a driver’s disregard for public safety.

Cellebrite has been a partner of Law Enforcement agencies all over the world in their fight against crime for over 20 years. Our Digital Intelligence Platform gives investigative teams the timely access and analysis of digital data, removing the need for time-consuming human review.  The result is actionable data which Law Enforcement can use to accelerate time-to-evidence, resolution of cases, and prevention of future criminal activity to contribute to the creation of a safer world.

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