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Police could have greater access to phone records

West Virginia motorists may be interested to know that a new product referred to as a "textalyzer" may help police learn more about their cellphone usage behind the wheel. The product enables authorities to place a cord into the phone that collects data about a driver's recent activity. It can determine what apps were open or if a person sent a text message just before an accident.

The creator of the device stresses that it would merely analyze the recent taps and swipes on the device. It would not be able to download content, and it could also determine if a driver was using a cellphone legally when a crash occurred. Furthermore, the device would be tailored to comply with the laws of a given jurisdiction. In most jurisdictions, an individual would need to get a warrant or a court order to access a driver's phone records.

This may be a time-consuming process, and the records themselves may say little about whether a person was browsing the web or texting. Despite precautions to protect a cellphone user's privacy, a representative from the New York Civil Liberties Union says that it could give police the power to gather personal information after any minor accident.

Distracted driving can be deemed negligence in some situations. If it is found to have played a role in causing a car accident, injured victims may be entitled to compensation to help them pay for medical bills and recover lost wages. An attorney may point to phone records or other evidence that a motorist was talking on the phone or was otherwise distracted in the moments before a car crash.

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