Police to introduce detectors to spot drivers using phones

Friday, April 12, 2019

Police plan to use mobile phone detectors to find drivers using their phones behind the wheel.


Forces in Hampshire and Thames Valley are rolling out the technology to show when motorists are using their phones. 


A sign will flash at the driver telling them to stop using their phone – although the detectors cannot differentiate between a driver and passenger using their mobile.


The forces don’t intend to use the technology as an “enforcement tool”, rather, it is aimed at educating drivers and identifying “hotspots” for offending. 


Initially tested in Norfolk in 2018, the system detects 2G, 3G and 4G signals, and will flash to alert people in cares who are using phones to call, text or use data. The detectors, which cost £6,000 each, recognises when drivers are using Bluetooth hands-free devices and does not flash in these instances. The sign will be activated regardless of who is using the mobile, whether it is the driver or passenger. 


Drivers caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel are currently fined £200 and given six points on their licence.


Deputy police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley, Matt Barber, said that the system isn’t “fool proof”, and police need to  "make it as socially unacceptable to use your mobile whilst driving as it is to drink and drive".


Research suggests that a driver is four times more likely to crash if they were using a phone and twice as likely to be involved in a fatal collision when texting compared with drink-driving.


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


“We welcome this technology as it will hopefully make drivers think about what they are doing behind the wheel, and encourage some to put down their phones and concentrate fully on driving.


“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.


“We have made the Department for Transport aware of this.”

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