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Tool similar to breathalyzer could be used to curb distracted driving

(iStock Photo)
Summary

A bill about the so-called textalyzer has just been tabled in New York

RCMP here in BC won't comment on whether they'll use it here

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The breathalyzer has been used by police for decades to keep you from drinking and driving, so would the threat of a so-called textalyzer stop you from distracted driving?

Police in New York could soon have a new tool for officers at the scene of a crash after a bill was tabled in the state earlier this month that would allow for the roadside scan of a smartphone.

The textalyzer, developed by Israeli company Cellebrite, was created to immediately determine whether drivers have been using their phone to text, surf the Internet, or make calls around the time of a crash.

Here in Canada, the BC RCMP will not comment on whether or not there could be a future for the textalyzer, but a prominent anti-distracted driving advocate likes the idea.

“I really appreciate the fact that they are trying something. What’s in place isn’t working so they are attempting something new,” says Karen Bowman with Drop It and Drive. “They are recognizing just how high the risk is with distracted driving and they are trying to put something else in place to curb the behaviour.”

And while she sees attitudes toward distracted driving starting to change in BC, Bowman believes there is still a very long way to go.

“We are not even close to scratching the surface of having the kind of behaviour change that we need to see when it comes to what is deemed safe to do behind the wheel,” she tells NEWS 1130.

As the piece of potential legislation stands now, police in New York wouldn’t need a warrant to use the textalyzer.

To deal with privacy concerns, the device does not reveal conversations, contacts, numbers, photos, and application data on the phone scanned.