New tech to help clamp down on driver mobile phone use

Warning sign driving phone

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

According to MoreBikes, Thames Valley and Hampshire police are working with the traffic signage manufacturers Westcotec to build a device that is installed roadside to monitor both mobile phone signals and passing traffic.

When a driver is detected using a phone without Bluetooth, a sign will flash up reminding them of the dangers of a mobile phone whilst driving.

Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesperson, said: "Driving and using a handheld phone do not mix, it is an incredibly risky and distracting combination".

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

"Most mothers look forward to planning their daughter's weddings". I had to plan Aimee's funeral.

Ms Goldsmith said she had confronted drivers using their phones behind the wheel since her daughter's death.

'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, ' she said.

She said the detectors were "not a flawless solution" to convict offenders but were "a step in the direction".

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

Additionally officers will be stopping motorists caught using their mobile phone at locations throughout Hampshire and the Thames Valley.

The system, which can not record footage, was initially tested in Norfolk previous year. The device will scan the 2G, 3G and 4G bandwidths to pick up signals, and through some manner of electronic voodoo, determines if the origin of those signals is moving.

Motorists using Bluetooth hands-free kits will not see the signs flash.

The technology can detect how many cars on a particular stretch of road are using their phones without hands free.

Hampshire and Thames Valley Police are the first to use the device, which has been developed by tech firm Westcotec.

The technology - which can't distinguish between a driver and a passenger using a handheld phone - does not automatically record footage and won't be used to automatically fine drivers at this stage, although future developments could make this possible.

This will include officers making use of a bus provided by Stagecoach to stop those using mobile devices while behind the wheel.

A new device can detect when motorists are using their mobile phones while driving and warn them to stop reduce the risks of "avoidable" deaths.

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