Police introduce detectors to spot drivers using mobile phones

Police introduce detectors to spot drivers using mobile phones
Police introduce detectors to spot drivers using mobile phones

Police are cracking down on drivers who illegally use their mobile phones with a new device that detects the dangerous behaviour.

The device can determine if people are using mobile phones without hands-free kits while driving.

Hampshire and Thames Valley police forces are the first to use the new technology.

How it works

When a driver is detected using a phone illegally by the technology, the device flashes the driver with a mobile phone signal as a warning.

The technology will also allow police to identify hotspots where drivers repeatedly use their phones.

The device can tell if you are using a hands-free device
The device can tell if you are using a hands-free device (Photo: Pixabay)

The device picks up 2G, 3G and 4G signal, and will flash to alert people in cars who are using phones to call, text or use data.

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

Issues with detection

However, it cannot tell whether the driver or a passenger is using the phone, so if a phone is being used anywhere in the car and is not attached to a Bluetooth device it will flash regardless.

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.”

Where will the devices be?

There initially will be two detectors – costing £6,000 each – placed on the A34 in Oxfordshire. They will then be moved between different locations throughout the Thames Valley and Hampshire.

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

The current penalty for being caught using a mobile phone while driving is a £200 fine and six points on your licence.

Aimee Goldsmith’s story

Aimee Goldsmith with her bother Kate and brother Jake
Aimee Goldsmith with her bother Kate and brother Jake (Photo: TVP)

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

The 11-year-old was killed along with her stepbrothers Josh Houghton, 11, Ethan Houghton, 13, and the brothers’ mother Tracey Houghton, 45.

Ms Goldsmith said: “I am supporting this campaign and welcome any technology which can assist in educating people and stop them from using their mobile phones whilst driving.

“My daughter’s death was completely avoidable.

“Please don’t use your mobile phone whilst driving, it’s not worth the risk.”

‘Driving and using a handheld phone do not mix’

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.

Read more:

A quarter of drivers have crashed while on the phone

“It is also apparent that you are 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.”

Additional reporting by PA 

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