File photo: Quickpic.co.za

London - When police want to check whether a driver has been drinking, they reach for a breathalyser.

Now a new device could help them discover if a motorist has been using their phone at the wheel – the ‘textalyser’.

The gadget could soon be legalised in the US as part of a crackdown.

A bill being considered in Nevada would allow police at the roadside to plug it into a suspect’s phone to check whether it had been used to surf Facebook or send messages while the car was in motion.

Created by the Israeli company Cellebrite, it would show what activity was carried out on the phone without revealing the contents of messages, the firm says.

Similar legislation is also being considered in New York, New Jersey and Tennessee. Currently, officers who want to check phone use must download its entire memory using specialist software.

The device would be unable to establish whether a passenger had used the phone as the motorist drove, but Pete Williams, from the RAC, said it could prove helpful to British police, claiming that if it provided evidence and helped obtain prosecutions "that has to be a good thing".

He added: "At the moment, people don’t believe they are likely to be caught.

"The police need as many tools in their kit as possible to enforce the law."

Britain has cracked down on phones being used at the wheel, with drivers who text or make calls facing six points and a £200 (R3800) fine following the Daily Mail’s End The Mobile Madness campaign.

Daily Mail