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You may be familiar with a breathalyser, a device used to estimate blood alcohol content (BAC) from a breath sample obtained from suspected drunk drivers. However, have you heard of a “textalyser” device?

In today’s connected world, the mobile phone is a strong distraction, and using one while driving is unlawful nearly everywhere. However, in the event of an accident, how do the authorities determine whether someone involved in a road accident was unlawfully driving while distracted by their mobile phone?

That’s where the textalyser comes in. Developed by a company called Cellebrite, the device allows the authorities to determine if the driver was using his or her mobile prior to a crash. In New York, a first-of-its-kind legislation is being proposed to introduce the textalyser for use in the state.

To comply with privacy concerns, the textalyzer will not access conversations, contacts, numbers, photos, and application data. Instead, it will solely determine if the phone was in use prior to the accident taking place. A warrant will be needed for further analysis, if needed, to determine whether such usage was via hands-free dashboard technology and to confirm the original finding. Under the proposed legislation drivers in accidents could risk losing their licence for refusing to submit phone to testing.

According to PR Newswire, New York State Senator Terrence Murphy and Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz, together with awareness organization Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs) are pushing for the legislation to implement the new law, known as “Evan’s Law.”

For a bit of background, DORCs co-founder Ben Lieberman has been a staunch advocate against distracted driving since he and his family lost their 19-year-old son, Evan, in a 2011 collision caused by a distracted driver.

Crash-accident-collision

A few weeks following the crash that resulted in Evan’s death, the culprit driver’s phone was left sitting in a junkyard, and police never retrieved the phone or phone records for that matter. Lieberman decided to file a civil suit, requesting that the phone be subpoenaed, where it was revealed that the driver had been texting moments before the crash.

“The general public knows distracted driving is a problem, but if people knew the extent of the damage caused by this behavior, they would be amazed,” said Lieberman. “With our current laws, we’re not getting accurate information because the issue is not being addressed at the heart of the problem—with the people causing the collisions.”

“I have often heard there is no such thing as a breathalyzer for distracted driving—so we created one,” Lieberman added. With texting while driving being a more rampant behaviour on today’s roads, will this technology provide justice to those who are victims of distracted driving?