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UR nicked! Will 'textalyser' earn ringing endorsement?

Experts in New York state are to study a device known as the "textalyser" that allows police to determine whether a motorist involved in a serious crash was texting while driving.

State governor Andrew Cuomo wants the Traffic Safety Committee to examine the technology, as well as privacy and constitutional questions it could raise.

"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," Mr Cuomo said.

"This review will examine the effectiveness of using this new emerging technology to crack down on this reckless behaviour and thoroughly evaluate its implications to ensure we protect the safety and privacy of New Yorkers."

The device is called the textalyser because of its similarity to the breathalyser, which is used to identify drink-drivers.

It would allow police to see if a motorist had been texting, emailing or otherwise using their mobile phone before a serious crash.

The textalyser is still some months away from being ready, according to Cellebrite, the Israeli-based tech company developing the device.

Privacy and civil liberties groups have already questioned whether the technology's use would breach personal privacy, noting that police must often obtain search warrants before looking at a person's phone.

The committee will hear from supporters and opponents of the technology, law enforcement officials and legal experts before issuing a report, Mr Cuomo's office said.

"We were the first state to adopt a motorcycle helmet law, a seat belt law for front-seat passengers and a cellphone law," said Terri Egan, executive deputy commissioner of the state's Department of Motor Vehicles, the committee's acting leader.

"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."

Twelve people were killed and 2,784 were injured in phone-related crashes in New York state from 2011-2015, according to figures from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research.

Figures show 1.2 million tickets for mobile phone offences were issued in the same time period.

AP

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