NY eyes ‘tex­t­alyzer’ to bust drivers

New tech­nol­ogy to crack down reck­less driv­ing

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

New York state is set to study the use of a de­vice known as the “tex­t­alyzer” that would al­low po­lice to de­ter­mine whether a mo­torist in­volved in a se­ri­ous crash was tex­ting while driv­ing. Demo­cratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo an­nounced yes­ter­day that he would di­rect the Gov­er­nor’s Traf­fic Safety Com­mit­tee to ex­am­ine the tech­nol­ogy, as well as the pri­vacy and con­sti­tu­tional ques­tions it could raise. “De­spite laws to ban cell­phone use while driv­ing, some mo­torists still con­tinue to in­sist on tex­ting be­hind the wheel plac­ing them­selves and oth­ers at sub­stan­tial risk,” Cuomo said in a state­ment pro­vided ex­clu­sively to The As­so­ci­ated Press.

“This re­view will ex­am­ine the ef­fec­tive­ness of us­ing this new emerg­ing tech­nol­ogy to crack down on this reck­less be­hav­ior and thor­oughly eval­u­ate its im­pli­ca­tions to en­sure we pro­tect the safety and pri­vacy of New York­ers.” The de­vice is called the “tex­t­alyzer” be­cause of its sim­i­lar­ity to the Breath­a­lyzer, which is used to iden­tify drunk drivers. It would al­low po­lice to see if a mo­torist had been tex­ting, email­ing or other­wise us­ing his or her cell­phone be­fore a se­ri­ous crash. The “tex­t­alyzer” is still some months away from be­ing ready, ac­cord­ing to Cellebrite, the Is­rael-based tech com­pany de­vel­op­ing the de­vice.

Pri­vacy and civil lib­er­ties groups al­ready have ques­tioned whether the tech­nol­ogy’s use would vi­o­late per­sonal pri­vacy, not­ing that po­lice of­ten must ob­tain search war­rants be­fore look­ing at a per­son’s phone.

The com­mit­tee will hear from sup­port­ers and op­po­nents of the tech­nol­ogy, law en­force­ment of­fi­cials and le­gal ex­perts be­fore is­su­ing a re­port, Cuomo’s of­fice said. Par­tic­u­lar ar­eas of fo­cus will in­clude the ef­fec­tive­ness of the tech­nol­ogy, con­sti­tu­tional and le­gal is­sues as well as how the de­vice would be used in prac­tice.

“We were the first state to adopt a mo­tor­cy­cle hel­met law, a seat belt law for front-seat pas­sen­gers and a cell-phone law,” said Terri Egan, ex­ec­u­tive deputy com­mis­sioner of the state’s De­part­ment of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles, who is the act­ing leader of the com­mit­tee. “We want to make sure we con­sider all the im­pacts of the tech­nol­ogy care­fully to best en­sure public safety and ef­fec­tive en­force­ment of the law.”

Twelve peo­ple were killed and 2,784 were in­jured in cell­phone-re­lated crashes in New York state from 2011-2015, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the In­sti­tute for Traf­fic Safety Man­age­ment and Re­search. State sta­tis­tics show 1.2 mil­lion tick­ets for cell­phone vi­o­la­tions were is­sued in that same time pe­riod. — AP

NEW YORK: In this file photo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks dur­ing a news con­fer­ence to an­nounce the in­crease in penal­ties for tex­ting while driv­ing in New York. — AP

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