N.Y. considers cell phone ‘field tests’

New York legislation envisions roadside electronic scans for cell phones possessed by drivers involved in wrecks.

new york's flag“Field tests” under the proposed “Evan’s Law” would seek to determine whether the cell phone was used at the time of the crash, but the scanning technology would not provide police with access to user content on the device.

Israeli firm Cellebrite reportedly is developing the scanning technology, dubbed the “textalyzer.”

The distracted driving legislation, from Assembly member Felix Ortiz and state Sen. Terrence Murphy, calls for application of “implied consent” by all drivers.

Those who refuse to surrender their cell phones would have their licenses suspended and face court orders to turn over the electronic devices. (The process would be similar to those widely used in the U.S. for suspected drunken drivers.)

The proposal comes as New York state officials have cited an 840 percent increase in tickets for texting since 2011. At the same time, citations for cell phone use have continued to decline.

“Evan’s Law” is named for Westchester County college student Evan Liberman, who died in a 2011 wreck linked to cell phone use. His family reportedly is working with the Israeli company Cellebrite to develop the technology. Cellebrite has been linked to FBI efforts to crack the iPhones of the Southern California terrorists.

New York state has one of the nation’s most fully developed sets of distracted driving laws, with current Gov. Andrew Cuomo making enforcement a priority during his administration.


  1. Ben Levitan says:

    As a cell phone engineer (25 years), I can tell you that this technical approach is not sound. As someone who acts as an expert witness in accident cases I can tell you that this won’t improve their success in court against cell phone experts. For the taxpayers, the ineffective solution is also going to be very expensive.

    New York just needs a real solution like requiring cell phone companies to block non-emergency phone use while a vehicle is in motion.

    Running tests after the fact won’t hold up in court. It’s far more important to stop texting and driving thus preventing accidents than it is to be able to detect use after the fact and improve the State’s conviction rate on texting tickets.

    AGAIN, it appears that NY is more interested in ticket revenue than in actually solving the problem. … This is something designed by a politician who doesn’t understand cell phones.

    The test could tell you if a text message was received but not if it was actually read. If an accident occurred while a message was being composed (the most likely time of an accident) the device could not detect this.

    There are better technical ways to stop cell phone use and driving. Cell phone carriers should block all activity of a phone while driving for users under 25 years of age or younger. Period. There are numerous ways to do this technically from the cloud that will 100% effective.

  2. Al Cinamon says:

    Well, it looks like the anti-texting law is working. An 840 percent increase in tickets. Let’s analyze that: Those drivers who were ticketed were not deterred from texting-while-driving in spite of the anti-texting law. So, as I’ve always said, the anti-texting law was phony from the start. It doesn’t stop anybody from texting but it sure did create a windfall for the NY Treasury, which was the purpose all along.

    So, now what to make of the new “textilyzer?” Will IT stop any one from texting? Will it prevent crashes? Probably not. But it will prove whether the driver was texting AFTER THE FACT! And, of course, if he/she were, then the fines would kick it. Another money maker.

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