Chicago officials consider equipping police with 'textalyzers'

Chicago could become the first U.S. city to equip its police officers with devices that will tell them if motorists were texting when they got into a traffic accident, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Chicago aldermen on Thursday discussed the idea of adding “textalyzers,” which could allow officers to scan cellphones to determine if they were in use at the time of the accident, Alderman Edward Burke said.

“In many ways it’s the digital equivalent of a Breathalyzer,” Burke told the Tribune.

However, Jody Wacker, who works for a company that is developing the device, said it is still being developed. Cellebrite officials said they were unsure how much the textalyzers would cost.

The textalyzer technology will be developed to comply with laws passed in various jurisdictions, Wacker told the Tribune, adding that New York is currently studying the privacy implications of letting police use the devices, Wacker said.

While Chicago outlaws texting while driving, it is difficult to prove a driver was doing so without a forensic check, Burke said.

“A split second is all it takes to have an accident, some kind of catastrophe on our streets,” Alderman Anthony Beale said.

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