Police in New York could be among the first in the world to trial an experimental technology that can detect if a mobile phone has been used behind the wheel.
Dubbed ‘textalysers’, a name inspired by the familiar breathalysers used to detect alcohol in a driver’s system, the new systems have been proposed as a means of helping to cut down on driver distraction.
But, unlike the radar-like handheld system reported in 2014, this new technology would instead analyse a mobile device after a road incident to determine if it had been in use in the moments leading up to the event.
Law-makers in New York State are pushing to pass legislation that would require wrongdoers to forfeit their devices following an accident or collision to be analysed by the so-called textalysers.
With privacy laws standing in the way of the new legislation, Cellebrite, the Israeli-based company behind the technology, claims that the technology will not have the ability to read the content of messages, but rather if the phone has been actively sending text messages.
The proposed legislation comes after extensive lobbying from the group Distracted Operators Risk Casualties, whose co-founder, Ben Lieberman, lost his son in an incident caused by a distracted driver in 2011.
“When people were held accountable for drunk driving, that’s when positive change occurred, Lieberman said.
“It’s time to recognize that distracted driving is a similar impairment, and should be dealt with in a similar fashion. This is a way to address people who are causing damage.”
The lobby group hopes that drivers who refuse to hand over their mobile phone will have their licence immediately revoked.
Success in the trial could see similar technology used in routine traffic stops in the future, to determine whether the phone has been used on the move.
According to a 2011 government survey in Australia, of the 93 per cent of drivers who owned a mobile phone, 59 per cent admitted to using it while driving.
The most prevalent offenders were the 18 to 24 and 25 to 39 age brackets, with rates of 94 per cent and 91 per cent respectively.