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It's now illegal to text and drive in more than 40 states across the country and the penalties for breaking the law are increasingly stiff. Although about a quarter of all auto collisions are believed to be linked to digital distraction, no nationwide standards exist for investigating accidents where authorities suspect a handheld device was involved.

Might Ohio be leading the way?

When officers there arrive at the scene of a serious crash, they consider cell phones potential evidence and are trained to obtain the devices, either with the drivers consent or with a warrant. Once they get the device, technicians at a computer forensics lab can access information on the phone including emails, call logs, texts -- and even deleted activity.

Some say this is an invasion of privacy, but Ohio State Highway Patrol maintains it's a necessary step.

Catherine Kim and Michelle Melnick of NBC News contributed to this report.