'Textalyzer' hopes to stop distracted driving in NY

Introducing the 'Textalyzer' to stop distracted driving
Introducing the 'Textalyzer' to stop distracted driving

Move aside, Breathalyzer. Police in New York may soon be equipped with a "Textalyzer," a device that can determine if a driver involved in a crash was driving while texting.

New York Senator Terrence Murphy and Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz have partnered with Distracted Operators Risk Casualties, an awareness organization, to propose a bill that would allow authorities to examine phones at an accident site.

The Textalyzer purportedly does not provide police with any content on the phone — conversations, contacts, photos, etc.

"I have often heard there is no such thing as a breathalyzer for distracted driving — so we created one," Ben Lieberman, co-founder of DORC, said in a statement. "Respecting drivers' personal privacy, however, is also important, and we are taking meticulous steps to not violate those rights."

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Cellebrite, an Israeli technology firm that is believed to have assisted the FBI in cracking the San Bernardino iPhone last month, is currently developing a way for authorities to detect device usage without infringing on the phone user's privacy.

The legislation was prompted, in part, by the death of Lieberman's son, Evan, who was killed by a distracted driver in New York in 2011.

"According to the National Safety Council, car crash statistics spiked significantly this year and that is the first increase after 10 years of steady decline," Deborah Becker, DORC's co-founder, said in a statement. "Since drunk driving is down and today's cars are built better than ever, the addition of mobile devices in our lives becomes the most likely reason for this sudden increase."