American highways have become increasingly safe, but in the past three years, traffic fatalities have jumped by 14%. So, what’s the problem? Many say the culprit is texting and driving. According to AAA, 67% of Americans are guilty of this form of distracted driving. Ben Lieberman, co-founder of Distracted Operators Risk Casualties or DORC, has proposed that law enforcers use a “Textalyzer,” a kind of device that works like a Breathalyzer, but instead of measuring a driver’s intoxication, it measures their cell phone activity while driving.
When Lieberman lost his son in a car accident, he suspected that there was more to the story than the driver falling asleep on the road. After obtaining the phone records of the driver, he discovered that the driver was texting throughout the drive. Lieberman says that while a drunk driver would be severely penalized for such an accident. The penalties for texting and driving are often as low as a $20 fine, and Lieberman also notes that there are currently states that don’t even have laws against texting and driving.
This led Lieberman to approach Cellebrite, a “mobile forensics” company that obtains digital data from cell phones, and together they developed a Textalyzer, a device that follows the same concept as a Breathalyzer; but instead of testing for alcohol, a Textalyzer can generate a report showing how many times a phone was accessed while driving.
While Cellebrite CEO, Jim Grady, and Ben Lieberman believe that the Textalyzer is ready for traffic enforcement, others disagree. Rashida Richardson, Legislative Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of New York, believes that the Textalyzer infringes on the privacy and rights of others and brings up questions about racial disparity in how these laws are enforced.
- Ben Lieberman, founder, Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs) and Alliance Combating Distracted Driving
- Jim Grady, CEO Cellebrite, Inc.
- Rashida Richardson, Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union of New York