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Textalyzer would allow police to see whether phone was in use before crash

Although distracted driving laws are already in place, the Canadian Automobile Association reports that driver distraction still factors into about four million motor vehicle crashes a year in North America.

Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

Lawmakers in New York are proposing a unique idea to curb texting and driving. It's called the Textalyzer, a roadside test that could be used at the scene of an accident, similar to how Breathalyzers are used in drinking-and-driving cases.

Democratic assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz sponsored the bipartisan Textalyzer bill, which would provide police officers with the technology to gain access to a phone's service history, allowing them to see whether a driver had been texting, e-mailing, or otherwise not abiding by distracted driving laws.

To avoid privacy concerns, police would not have access to the device's content. "The equipment only has the capacity to determine whether the phone was in use at the time of the accident," the proposed bill states.

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The act is called Evan's Law, after 19-year-old Evan Lieberman, who was killed by a distracted driver in 2011. According to the bill, the cause of the accident was only discovered after the cellphone records were analyzed.

Although distracted driving laws are already in place, the Canadian Automobile Association reports that driver distraction still factors into about four million motor vehicle crashes a year in North America.

Distracted driving accidents are responsible for nine deaths and over 1,150 injuries a day in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Crashes caused by distracted driving are not only costing people their lives, they're also costing the United States billions of dollars a year – about $175-billion (U.S.) in economic and societal according to estimates made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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