Proposed NY Law Would Permit Use of a ‘Textalyzer’

In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that texting and driving was 6 times more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol. But whereas law enforcement agencies have been working to curb drunk driving for decades, they’ve only just begun to combat distracted driving caused by texting.
It’s hard to say how many accidents have been caused by undocumented cases of texting and driving, but it’s undoubtedly a significant figure. The trouble is that it’s not always easy for police officers to determine whether or not a suspect was texting prior to an accident. If a new bill is approved by the state legislature, however, police officers in New York could gain access to a new tool in the fight against distracted driving.
The bill was drafted through a collaborative effort between state legislators and a Chappaqua-based nonprofit organization called Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs). If the bill becomes law, it will allow police officers to use a “Textalyzer” device to determine whether or not a mobile phone was being used just prior to an accident. The device would allow officers to review the activity on a phone without accessing content such as text messages, photos, contacts and phone conversations, thereby protecting the privacy of the suspect. DORCs is commissioning the development of the Textalyzer through a private mobile forensics company. If this bill passes, New York will likely be the first state to employ the device in the field.
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