US considers ‘breathalysers for phones’

New York police carImage copyright

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Fines for texting will driving have risen hugely in New York

Legislators in New York are considering compulsory roadside scans for the mobile phones of drivers in accidents.

Such breathalyser-style tests would seek to show whether a mobile phone had been in use at the time of a crash.

It comes as New York officials cite an 840% increase in fines for texting while driving.

Israeli company Cellebrite is reportedly developing technology that could be used for this purpose.

The company was recently linked with the FBI’s attempts to unlock the phone used by the San Bernardino gunman.

It already has technology that can check a phone’s recent activity but would need to adapt this to make sure any scanning equipment was not logging the contents of texts or numbers called.

Evan’s law

This anonymity feature would be crucial to ensure the scanning technology would not fall foul of the Fourth Amendment right to privacy.

The legislation is currently being considered by the New York Senate Transportation committee and would be the first of its kind if passed.

Dubbed Evan’s Law, it has been prompted by lobbying from the group Distracted Operators Risk Casualties, founded by Ben Lieberman after his 19-year-old son, Evan, was killed by a distracted driver in New York.

UK Department for Transport figures in 2014 suggest 1.6% of drivers (more than 500,000) use mobile phones behind the wheel.

Mobile phone use was a contributory factor in 492 UK road accidents in 2014, according to RAC research.

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