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New York governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to study ‘Textalyzer’ technology

In a bid to reduce distracted driving, New York Governor Andrew M Cuomo has directed the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) to study ‘Textalyzer’ technology, which is designed to detect if a cell phone was used in the moments before a crash.

The committee will work with member agencies, legal experts, and other stakeholders, including advocates who support the technology, to gather information about the system and its impact, and issue a report on their findings. Cuomo considers distracted driving to be a major threat to the success of his Vizion Zero program.

According to a report by The Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, from 2011-2015, 12 people were killed in New York State and 2,784 people were injured in cell phone crashes. During that time, 1.2 million tickets were issued for cell phone violations. A total of 217,021 tickets were issued for cell phone violations in 2015, down 16% from 2011. Of the tickets given in 2015, 39% were for texting.

The Traffic Safety Committee and its member agencies will study:

• Existing technology;
• Constitutional and legal issues associated with the implementation and use of such technology;
• Implementation and use of such technologies in other jurisdictions;
• Statutory amendments necessary for the implementation and use of the technology in New York;
• Any other issues deemed necessary.

“Despite laws to ban cellphone use while driving, some motorists still continue to insist on texting behind the wheel, placing themselves and others at substantial risk,” said Cuomo. “This review will examine the effectiveness of using this new emerging technology to crack down on this reckless behavior and thoroughly evaluate its implications to ensure we protect the safety and privacy of New Yorkers.”

Terri Egan, executive deputy commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and acting GTSC chair, commented, “New York has long been on the forefront of taking steps to protect drivers, motorcyclists and pedestrians. We were the first state to adopt a motorcycle helmet law, a seat-belt law for front-seat passengers, and a cell phone law.

“We want to make sure we consider all the impacts of the technology carefully to best ensure public safety and effective enforcement of the law. We try very hard to send the message that texting or talking on the phone while driving is a risk no one should be taking, through both enforcement and educational campaigns.”

July 28, 2017

Written by Adam Frost

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