The initial state to adopt a motorcycle helmet law, a seat belt law for front seat passengers and a cellphone law is now looking to add a cutting-edge device to its growing list of “firsts.”
In July, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a study on the potential use of the “textalyzer.” Similar to the Breathalyzer, it allows police to identify a motorist using their cellphone before a serious motor vehicle accident.
The Empire State’s top elected official claims that laws to ban cellphone use while driving has not stopped motorists from texting. He wants the review to examine the effectiveness of textalyzers to “crack down on this reckless behavior.”
Cuomo has directed the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to not only focus on the effectiveness of the emerging technology, constitutional and legal issues, and specifically how the device would be used.
Cellebrite, the device’s manufacturer, claims the textalyzer is still months away from being ready for use by law enforcement. Additionally, the device when released would not access the content of calls or texts.
However, those assurances have not stopped the growing fear over personal privacy violations, particularly when it follows a traumatic event.
Civil liberties and privacy groups are expressing due process-related concerns over a driver automatically handing a phone, their personal property, to a police officer without a search warrant. A state law already exists that penalizes drivers for noncompliance.
Troubling statistics from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research showed twelve people killed and 2,784 injured in cellphone-related crashes in New York from 2011 to 2015. During that same period, state statistics reveal 1.2 million traffic tickets for cellphone violations were issued to drivers.