New York is studying the use of technology known as the “textalyzer” to determine if someone was handling a phone while driving.
“Despite laws to ban cellphone use while driving, some motorists still continue to insist on texting behind the wheel — placing themselves and others at substantial risk,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in an exclusive statement to The Associated Press.
Cuomo said the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee is looking into the effectiveness of this technology in serious crashes. Privacy and potential constitutional questions are also under consideration.
New York already bans the use of handheld devices while driving.
“We want to make sure we consider all the impacts of the technology carefully to best ensure public safety and effective enforcement of the law,””said Terri Egan, executive deputy commissioner of the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
Cellebrite, an Israel-based tech company, produces the “textalyzer” and claims the device still requires months of development before implementation.
The “textalyzer” resembles a breathalyzer and will allow police officers to see if a person had been texting, emailing or using his or her phone in some other fashion prior to an accident.
According to News10 ABC, two potential scenarios following a crash will allow police to implement the technology: either the officers find a phone on the scene of the incident or the phone is handed over to them. After the phone is acquired, it will be connected to a tablet with the software.
While the software does not permit officers to read the text messages, it will tell them the exact time an app was last activated.
Critics are skeptical about providing officers access to such personal information, but proponents believe the technology will increase safety and lower distracted driving.