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Nevada considers technology to check phones after crashes

The state of Nevada may introduce controversial new technology that can help law enforcement determine whether cell phone usage played a part in motor vehicle accidents. The New York legislature rejected a measure to use the technology in 2017, but the state is also considering it again. The first version of the proposal before the Nevada legislature allowed drivers' licenses to be suspended for 90 days if they would not agree to have their phones checked, but the proposal was amended to require a warrant if a driver refused.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving was a factor in 3,450 deaths in 2016. In around 14 percent of cases, cell phones were a distraction. However, many say that the role of cell phones in these crashes is underestimated because they depend on self-reporting. Drivers are often not forthcoming about whether they were using their phone when an accident occurred.

The proposed technology has raised privacy concerns, although the company that makes it says it will not store personal information. Instead, the device examines user activity. The "textalyzer" may violate laws against unreasonable search and seizure, according to opponents, and the American Civil Liberties Union says there need to be assurances that personal information is not accessed. Others argue that the device is only minimally intrusive.

Car crashes may be caused by several other factors in addition to distraction. Drivers may be reckless, fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. One reason it is important to determine an accident's cause is that the person who is at fault may be responsible for the medical bills and other expenses of people who are injured in the accident. Injured victims trying to get compensation after a car accident might want to consult an attorney.

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