April 19, 2019

Mobile phone detectors set to be used by police

15 April 2019, 07:13 | Cameron Gross

Police detectors to warn mobile phone-using drivers

New technology being used to crack down on drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel

Two UK police departments are collaborating with a transportation specialist to develop a device that will detect motorists using their cellphones while driving, and send them a warning that tells them to stop.

The device will also be used to determine areas on the roads which are hotspots for motorists using their phone while behind the wheel.

However, the detector - which will initially be located on the A34 in Oxfordshire but will be posted at different locations throughout the Thames Valley and Hampshire - will help Thames Valley Police and Hampshire's Joint Operations Roads Policing Unit to target particular hotspots for enforcement, based on intelligence taken from the results.

The technology can not distinguish if a passenger or a driver of a vehicle is using a phone and so the sign will be activated regardless of who is using the mobile.

"While it will no doubt be argued that the technology cannot yet definitively detect drivers that are using handheld phones illegally, we are aware of camera equipment being trialled in other countries which can".

It can also recognise when a hands-free Bluetooth device is being used instead, and will not flash the driver.

If it spots a phone being used (by monitoring 2G, 3G and 4G signals) it will flash a mobile phone symbol at the vehicle to warn them that they have been seen using a device, which will hopefully deter them from using it.

Where will the devices be?

There is a chance more could be rolled out in the future.

Tougher penalties for using a mobile phone behind the wheel were introduced in March 2017, which saw the fine double to six points and a £200 fine.

The campaign is being supported by Kate Goldsmith, who lost her daughter Aimee after a lorry driver crashed into the auto she was a passenger in while he was using his mobile phone to change music while driving.

Kroker killed Aimee, her stepbrothers Ethan Houghton, 13, Joshua, 11, and their mother Tracy, 45, when he ploughed into stationary traffic at 50mph on 10 August 2016.

When a driver is detected using a phone without Bluetooth, a sign will flash up reminding them of the dangers of a mobile phone whilst driving.

"My daughter's death was completely avoidable".

Matt Barber, deputy police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley, told the BBC that the system was "not fool-proof", but said that the police needed to "make it as socially unacceptable to use your mobile whilst driving as it is to drink and drive".

A mother who's daughter died in a collision involving a lorry driver using his phone has welcomed the move, continuing her plea to urge drivers to stop using their mobiles behind the wheel.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams added: "Driving and using a handheld phone do not mix, it is an incredibly unsafe and distracting combination".

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