New York has become the first U.S. state to introduce a policy solution that allows police to determine if drivers had been sending text messages when they caused a transit accident. The task will be possible due to the “Textalyzer”, the new cousin of the Breathalyzer.
The new bipartisan state bill was presented by the New York State Senator Terrence Murphy in collaboration with the organization Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs). The latter has criticized that current laws do not offer a consistent protocol for police, to investigate if texting has interfered in a car crash.
DORCs co-founder Ben Lieberman, who lost his family in a crash caused by a distracted driver, said that people would be surprised if they knew the impact and damage caused by texting while driving.
“The general public knows distracted driving is a problem. 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.” Added Lieberman in a press release.
The Israeli company Cellebrite has collaborated alongside the DORCs, to create the breathalyzer for distracted driving. The new device must respect the personal privacy of drivers, Lieberman stressed that they are taking “meticulous steps” to not violate the privacy rights.
The Textalyzer will allow New York Police officers to determine if a device was being used when a crash occurred. However, it will not provide access to further content like conversations, contacts, numbers, photos or private data from apps, said the DORCs in a press release.
Texting while driving is the new “drunk driving”
Assemblyman Felix Ortiz said that he is proud to be the sponsor of the nation’s first law, to ban talking on a phone while driving. He added that people continue to put themselves and others in risk, so the new policy alongside the Textalyzer will become an effective preventive measure.
The National Safety Council’s new statistics show that car crashes have increased during 2016, after ten years of continuous decline. DORCs co-founder Deborah Becker, said that drunk driving is almost eliminated in the country, while cars are safer and stronger than ever before.
She suggests that this “sudden increase” in car accidents may be caused due the addition of mobile devices. According to the National Highway traffic Safety Administration, driving and texting is up to six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.
That said, the AAA foundation for Traffic Safety has reported that 67 percent of drivers in the country use their phones while driving. Lieberman said that a “positive change” occurred, when people started to pay bills for driving drunk. He proposes that similar measures should be applied to people who send text messages while driving.
“I am thrilled to partner with Assemblyman Ortiz and the Lieberman family to bring more awareness to this issue and support legislation that will help our law enforcement more effectively enforce the rules of the road.” Said Senator Murphy.
Source: DORCs Press Release