Police deploy device to detect drivers using mobile phones
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Two local police forces in England have started using a device that can detect when drivers are using their mobile phones.
Constabularies in Hampshire and Thames Valley are using the devices to determine how many cars on a stretch of road have phones being used without hands-free kits.
When the device, created by technology firm Westcotec, spots a phone being used, it will flash a mobile phone symbol at the vehicle to advise the driver to stop using their mobile phone.
The system comprises a sensor capable of detecting vehicles where there are active 2G, 3G and 4G phone signals, and an LED warning sign located a short distance along the road.
As long as the activation meets certain pre-determined parameters, the sensor will pick up that a driver is using a phone for calling, text or data purposes and will activate the warning sign. This shows an illuminated mobile phone icon within a bright red circle and diagonal red line.
A spokesman for the two forces said: “The technology can detect when Bluetooth is being used but cannot detect if a passenger is using the phone, but the sign will still be activated reminding motorists of the distraction of a mobile phone whilst driving.”
Pc Liz Johnson, a roads safety officer, said: “Research shows us that you are four times more likely to crash if you are using a mobile phone whilst driving, reaction times are around 50 per cent slower than a driver not using a mobile phone.
“It is also apparent that you are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal collision when texting compared with drink driving.”
The new device will be first used on the A34 in Oxfordshire before being introduced across the Thames Valley and Hampshire areas.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “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.”