Texting and driving continues to be a major problem on today’s roadways and let’s be honest with ourselves – public service announcements alone aren’t going to reverse the trend. Fully autonomous vehicles will negate the issue but those are still many years away.

In the interim, New York lawmakers have proposed implementing a test that would determine if a driver involved in an accident was texting or otherwise using their phone in a manner that may have been distracting and ultimately caused said accident.

The test, dubbed the Textalyzer, is essentially the digital version of the breathalyzer used by police to measure the amount of alcohol in a driver’s breath to determine if they were intoxicated while behind the wheel.

As The New York Times explains, an officer at the scene of an accident could ask for the phones of drivers involved in the accident and use the Textalyzer to tap into the mobile device’s operating system to check for recent activity. Failure to hand over a phone for testing could result in the suspension of a driver’s license.

It’s an extreme measure that’s ripe with all sorts of privacy concerns although proponents of the bill, like Democratic assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz, say it would only allow law enforcement to determine if a driver was actively using a device, not view the contents of any messages that may have been sent or received.

Keep in mind that many states have already banned texting by drivers but as we all know, that has done little to curb the issue as police can’t be everywhere at all times to enforce it. If passed, the Textalyzer may scare a few people into stopping the bad behavior but again, one would be foolish to think it would put a major dent in the epidemic.

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