ALBANY -- New York may soon make it easier to crack down on texting while driving as it considers "textalyzer" technology.
The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee has been studying "textalyzer" technology since last July, saying it has the potential to determine if a driver had been using their phone in the moments leading up to a car accident.
The state wants to get feedback from drivers this fall. Public "listening sessions" are planned in Westchester County, Long Island and Rochester.
"This year, New Yorkers set an all-time record for seatbelt use. But many of those same motorists who are saving lives by buckling up are still texting behind the wheel, putting countless lives at risk,” said Terri Egan, executive deputy commissioner of the state Department of Motor Vehicles, in a statement.
Texting while driving has become increasingly perilous on the roadways, and New York has bolstered laws to crack down on the dangerous habit.
Between 2011 and 2015, 678 people died from distracted driving car crashes in New York, according to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research. During that same time, 2,784 people were injured as a result of cell phone-related car crashes in the state.
In 2015, New York issued 217,021 tickets for cell phone violations, and 39 percent of those tickets were for texting while driving.
Also in 2015, New York increased the penalty for texting while driving from three points to five points and made it up to a $200 fine on a first offense. Young drivers under 21 with junior licenses can get their license suspended for a first offense, and New York has established texting zones at rest stops.
The ongoing study of textalyzer technology has been looking into variations of the products; legal issues that would be involved in enforcing and implementing its use, as well as other potential problems, the DMV said.
The closest public sessions near WNY will be held Nov. 9 at the University of Rochester; Bloch Alumni and Advancement Center; 300 E. River Road; Rochester, New York 14627
Members of the public who would like to register to speak at a listening session or give written testimony can do so at SafeNY@dmv.ny.gov.