Victoria police has announced it is interested in the outcome of a US trial of ‘textalysers’ to scan whether a mobile phone has been used and contributed to a collision.

IN APRIL, the New York Police Department announced it was trialling technology that would allow it to scan a person’s mobile phone and determine if it had been used in the moments before a collision. It could also be used in the same way a random breath test is conducted.

This week, Victoria Police revealed it is following the trial with interest, the UK’s Metropolitan Police has also said it too is following the US trial. The Victoria Police announcement came at the launch of Operation Motus which is focussing on mobile phone use behind the wheel. And, according to Victoria Police data more than 34,000 infringement notices were issued in 2015 for mobile phone use while driving a vehicle.

“We are interested in anything that could support us in our road to zero lives lost on Victorian roads… (and) constantly assessing technologies from all over the world to advance our road policing efforts” said Acting Superintendent Stuart McGregor.

“It’s still alarming to see that more than 34,000 people think it’s okay to put the lives of others at risk just to check their phones [while driving].

“Driving is a serious task and should be treated as such. You’re in charge of more than a tonne of metal and if you divert your attention for even a split second; it could have fatal consequences,” McGregor added.

The company behind the ‘textalyser’ is an Israeli company, Cellebrite, that specialises in data extraction, transfer and analysis devices for use on mobile devices.

Obviously there are privacy issues at play here, but the issue of distracted driving is one that’s growing as more and more people become plugged-in to the notion of instantaneous response to messages, or keeping up to date with social media for fear of missing out.

Recent studies both here in Australia and abroad have suggested that using a mobile phone while driving is akin to being drunk behind the wheel. While a small study in the US also suggested that using a mobile phone to text behind the wheel is able to disconnect your brain’s ‘autonomous functionality’ in a way that arguing in the car, or talking to passengers doesn’t.

Currently, the fine for using a mobile phone behind the wheel is up to $455 and the loss of four demerit points.

“No text message or social media update is more important than getting to your destination safely,” McGregor said.


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1 comment

  1. I listen to Spotify whilst driving through my phone as my car does not currently have a radio. I wonder how this would respond to that because even though my phone is sitting in the centre console not even being touched would it register as in use because I would hate to be nabbed just because I don’t have a radio. That said using your phone is a stupid and dangerous thing to do so if it would help reduce the number of people using their phones whilst driving then its a discussion worth while and is not that different to a breathalyser.

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