Because of people’s flagrant disdain for repeated exhortations to refrain from using mobile phones while operating any type of heavy machinery at all, numerous accidents have occurred during the past couple of decades. Most states in the United States, as well as the majority of governments worldwide, have outlawed texting while driving for the better part of the last ten years. Public awareness efforts have also attempted to get individuals to put down their phones while operating a motor vehicle. However, as time goes on, the issue simply worsens, and tales of fatalities and major injuries from cellphone-related auto accidents are all too frequent.
Legislators and public health professionals in the U.S. are therefore seriously considering enacting proactive measures that would treat distracted driving like drunk driving because the general public appears to be unable or unwilling to control their cellphone addiction even while operating a motor vehicle. Many public health officials and safety experts believe that the new Textalyzer device has the potential to significantly lower the number of accidents caused by cellphone-related distractions, so some New York lawmakers are weighing the benefits and drawbacks of allowing the NYPD to use it as part of their efforts.
What is Textalyzer and How Does it Work?
It is claimed that a textalyzer electronic device may detect when a driver is using their phone or tablet while operating a car. The textalyzer must be plugged in to scan the device and report the precise time when the phone was swiped or tapped in order to identify whether a specific device was in use at a given time. The textalyzer hasn’t been formally unveiled, but it’s rumoured to resemble an iPad-sized tablet. The technology was created by Cellebrite, an Israeli tech company that made headlines last year for allegedly assisting the FBI hack into the iPhone of San Bernardino shooting suspect Syed Farook. Critics of the technology are fighting proposed legislation that would allow police officers to legally use the device to accuse drivers of distracted driving.
Why is the Textalyzer Controversial?
While supporters of the textalyzer assert that it will reduce the pervasive use of mobile phones while driving, detractors are outraged about what they see as yet another government intrusion into their privacy. The gadget is simply too intrusive, and if it is adopted without clear and unequivocal safeguards, it might seriously jeopardise an individual’s right to privacy, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union and other privacy rights organisations. The NYCLU even stated in a statement issued a few weeks ago that the proposed measure authorising police officers to use the textalyzer to analyse drivers’ phones constitutes a major invasion of privacy and is, thus, unconstitutional.
According to Cellebrite, its technology is solely intended to track swipes and touches and cannot be used to read actual content such as emails, messages, photos, audio, or video. As no independent third party has yet independently verified whether the technology will genuinely refrain from collecting private information or just avoid disclosing that to the police in an effort to circumvent the Forth Amendment right to privacy, don’t anticipate the controversy surrounding the topic to die down anytime soon.
What Does the Textalizer Law Propose and When Will it Come into Effect?
The lobbying group Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs), whose co-founder Ben Lieberman lost his son, Evan, in a car accident brought on by a distracted driver a few years ago, promoted the legislation to implement the use of textalyzers. The legislation was introduced in the New York Senate last year.
The New York Senate Transportation Committee passed the new law, which has encountered equal amounts of support and opposition, and it is currently awaiting action from the finance committee. Legislators and officials in Tennessee, New Jersey, and Illinois are also actively considering similar legislative action.
The police will be compelled to notify drivers involved in accidents that their licences may be suspended with immediate effect pending a textalyzer scan of their mobile device if the new law becomes law (s). The driver’s licence may even be revoked if they refuse to submit to such a field test. Every motorist shall be presumed to have consented to the scanning of his or her mobile device to ascertain whether they were using it in the seconds preceding the accident, according to the proposed law.
The state’s Traffic Safety Committee will assess the textalyzer to see if it is ready for prime time, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated last month. There is currently no set date for when the technology will be used, but Cellebrite claims that it is prepared to launch its product early in 2019.
Can the Textalyzer Really Reduce Distracted Driving?
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