The Thames Valley and Hampshire police forces are set to use mobile phone detectors to find drivers using devices behind the wheel of a vehicle. A sign will flash at approaching drivers telling them to stop using their mobile, but the only problem is, the detectors cannot tell if it is a driver or passenger who is actually using the phone unless the driver is the only person present in the vehicle.
Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary developed the technology with Westcotec Ltd and was initially tested last year in Norfolk. The system, which cannot record footage, picks up 2G, 3G and 4G signals from passing vehicles and will flash a warning sign to alert people in cars who are using phones to call, text or data. If people are using a Bluetooth hands-free device, the detector will recognise this and not flash, but what the detectors can't do is distinguish if it's the passenger or the driver which is using a phone or mobile device.
The sign will indicate mobile usage regardless of who is using one. The current law states that any drivers caught using a mobile phone while driving will be fined £200 and given six points on their licence.
The two detectors, which cost £6,000 each, will be located on the A34 in Oxfordshire but will be posted at different locations throughout the Thames Valley and Hampshire to start, with the possibility of additional detectors and locations to be added in the future. As reported by the BBC, Matt Barber, deputy police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley, said the system was "not fool-proof", but added the police needed to "make it as socially unacceptable to use your mobile whilst driving as it is to drink and drive".
PC Liz Johnson, a roads safety officer, said research suggested a driver was 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. "It is vital that people take notice and stop using their mobile phones whilst driving," she added.
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