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Police to use mobile phone detection warning signs

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New mobile phone detection warning signs are being rolled out by Thames Valley and Hampshire police forces.

The system, developed by Westcotec, 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.

The device is purely about education, warning drivers and being able to identify when the driver was on the phone. It is the first such system to have a direct interaction with a mobile phone offender.

The technology can detect if a driver is using Bluetooth, and will therefore not trigger the warning sign. However, the manufacturer accepts that some activations might be triggered by non-driving occupants.

Norfolk County Council was the first to trial the road signs last year, but this is the first time that the police has decided to deploy the technology.

The forces say 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 - but more could be rolled out.

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".

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.

Drivers caught using a mobile phone while driving are currently fined £200 and given six points on their licence.


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  • Victor - 12/04/2019 11:17

    What if my car is using the 4G data via Android Auto?

  • The 'back end' guy - 12/04/2019 11:34

    Well thought out considering Google Maps uses 3/4G data. Really unlike the British establishment to implement something without thoroughly thinking through the consequences...

  • Ean - 12/04/2019 11:42

    Pity it isn't attached to a hi res camera as well... yet!

  • Matt - 12/04/2019 11:45

    Seems like technology for technology's sake. I'm sure money would be better spent on generic signs that remind every driver that using a mobile phone is illegal, regardless of whether they are using one at that moment. The spend the difference of reminding people to move out of the middle lane on motorways, which is a much bigger problem!

  • Darren - 12/04/2019 12:12

    Question, what about when a phone that is plugged in to a USB cable for navigation or Apple CarPlay & Google Play. Would prefer actual police on the road to stop and fine those holding a mobile phone in their hand or under their chins. #whatawasteof£6K

  • Stewart - 12/04/2019 12:20

    Legislation is still too weak on this topic. It law was passed to completely ban the use of mobile phones in cars unless stationary, and manufacturers forced to implement technology to prevent phones being used whilst driving the roads would be much safer.

  • Silly Man - 12/04/2019 13:50

    What about telematics? Will this 2G/3G signal trigger it? Pointless for enforcement.

  • Rusty - 14/04/2019 09:19

    What about telematics systems that transmit via 3G /4G ?

  • The Engineer - 15/04/2019 10:00

    Ironically, the people its supposed to guilt trip, probably won't see the sign light up as they are probably looking down at their phone to type a message! As other say, a plain clothes policeman stood next to it checking those that trigger it would be more useful.

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