- To try to change a distinctly modern behavior, texting while driving, legislators and public health experts are reaching back to an old strategy: They want to treat distracted driving like drunken driving
The most provocative idea, from lawmakers in New York, is to give police officers a new device that is the digital equivalent of the Breathalyzer — a roadside test called the Textalyzer.
The technology could determine whether a driver used the phone to text, email or do anything else that is prohibited by New York’s hands-free driving laws, which only allow talking on a phone while using a headset. Failure to hand over a phone could lead to the suspension of a driver’s license, similar to the consequences for refusing a Breathalyzer.
The proposed legislation faces hurdles to becoming a law, including privacy concerns. But Félix W. Ortiz, a Democratic assemblyman who was a sponsor of the bipartisan Textalyzer bill, said it would not give the police access to the contents of any emails or texts. It would simply give them a way to catch multitasking drivers, he said.