Device Aiming to Stop Distracted Driving Being Considered in New York

It's being called a breathalyzer for texting.

A proposed device called the "Textalyzer" would allow police to check your phone at the scene of a car crash, to see if it had been used minutes before.

"When you get to the scene of an accident, I think a tool like that could definitely be beneficial," said Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss. "Texting while driving is a very serious issue right now."

The device would be able to determine if the driver had been doing anything from tapping, swiping or clicking the screen before the accident. And while some drivers go hands-free, they are still concerned with the idea of police going into their phones if they get into an accident.

"It is an invasion of privacy," said Corning resident Jim Cendoma.

The idea is facing opposition across the board, considering the owner's consent and a warrant are needed to get into cell phone records.

"It's like anything. You can not come to my home without a search warrant. So you should not be able to search my records without a search warrant," said Cendoma. "I think this proposed law is going to have a tough time getting through [the] legislature."

But the company behind the new technology claims it's designed to only determine when the cell phone was used, not to access data.

"It's not looking at photos, it’s not looking at your address book. It's not looking at the contacts," said Moss. "It's just simply looking if you were on the phone during a specific period of time, obviously close to when the accident happened."

Officers hope the device will act as a tool to stop distracted driving altogether.

"If people knew that 'wow, if I was in an accident and was on my phone, I'm going to be held accountable,' I think it could work," said Moss.

And although many details need to be ironed out, everyone can agree on one thing.

"The real lesson is do not text and drive," said Cendoma.

Similar legislation is being considered in other states like Tenessee and New Jersey.

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