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New Technology May Detect Texting While Driving

Using a cell phone while driving is convenient, but research has shown that “text messaging while driving creates a crash risk 23 times higher than driving while not distracted.” In Illinois, crashes due to inattentive driving led to a law against the practice in January, 2013.

The following January, the legislature banned all hand-held use, and all cell phone use while in construction or school zones, with fines for violation ranging from $75 to $500 across the state. Police have been issuing tickets in increasing volumes – for example, State Troopers issued 1,222 in the first quarter of 2013 and 3,307 for the same period in 2014. However, the practice continues, in part because police have had difficulty enforcing the ban.

Now those who rely on hand held devices while driving should be on notice: a Virginia company called ConSonics says it is developing a new tool to make police enforcement of the hand-held ban much easier.

ConSonics already provides police with the radar-guns that detect speeding violations. A company spokesman described the new tool as a similar device that would allow police to detect the signature frequencies of text messaging or cell phone use based on the frequencies emanating from a passing car.

The technology is already used by cable repair workers who must find cable damage in walls – for example, where rodents have gnawed through wires, disrupting frequencies. The company says the device is “close to production.”

Such a tool may raise enforcement questions. For example, what if an officer detects text messaging from a passenger? What if cell phone use turns out to be a legal hands-free conversation? Others may be concerned about privacy.

Although the tool can distinguish between text messaging and calling, which could make it more useful in states that prohibit only one or the other, Illinois officers may need to watch for whether vehicles contain passengers to avoid wasting resources. And ConSonics assures that the device is unable to decrypt detected data.

Get Legal Help

Cell phone use while driving is still widespread. Have you or one of your family members been involved in an accident due to texting while driving, or other traffic law violations? We can help. Our experienced attorneys handle all types of accidents throughout DuPage County, Cook County, Will County, Kane County, and across Illinois.