Attention drivers, gather around for another great reason to never text when you're behind the wheel. New technology may soon tell police officers whether you've been using your phone while driving, no ifs, ands or buts about it.
The device is called the "textalyzer," and safety advocates believe it can save lives. Made by the digital intelligence company Cellebrite, the software would show law enforcement the exact time you were using your phone, whether it's Facebook messages, texts or phone calls all without revealing the actual content.
"The way this is envisioned is the police don't need to look at your phone screen or touch it," said Jim Grady, CEO of Cellebrite, told . "They just hand you the cable. You insert the cable into the phone." The officer could then see an activity log, with timestamps and details like whether it was voice-activated texts or manually typed ones.
Cellebrite hopes to tailor the device based on local laws and restrictions. And even though it's only a prototype now, the textalyzer has already faced some serious opposition.
The has come out strongly against it, citing a that ruled that the warrantless search and seizure of a cell phone as unconstitutional. The nonprofit questions whether the device will actually protect drivers' privacy, and how it will account for things like passengers texting on their behalf.
On the other hand, see hope for a safer future. Russell Hurd lost his 26-year-old daughter Heather after a tractor-trailer bulldozed into her car at a red light. The driver, who was texting, never even braked.
"Everyone has a Heather in their life," he told . "We are trying to prevent them from being killed as well." Hurd is now campaigning for his home state of Maryland to implement this technology after he contributed towards a ban on texting and driving in 2009.
is another state that's . Governor Andrew Cuomo's Traffic Safety Committee is currently studying the technology and its potential legal issues in response to legislation introduced last year.
While lawmakers and technologists will continue to debate the merits of textalyzers in the near future, one thing is for certain. , and there's no reason to wait when you can make a choice today that protects both yourself and those around you.