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New tech to help clamp down on driver mobile phone use

Police forces in the Thames Valley and Hampshire are rolling out new technology to aid more proactive targeting of driver mobile phone use.


Businesses worried drivers are using mobile phones

The technology can detect drivers using a handheld mobile phone

Already trialled in Norfolk, the technology has been developed by Westcotec and can detect when drivers are using their phones without using a hands-free device.

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.

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.

However, the detector – which will initially be located on the A34 in Oxfordshire but will be posted at different locations throughout the Thames Valley and Hampshire – will help Thames Valley Police and Hampshire’s Joint Operations Roads Policing Unit to target particular hotspots for enforcement, based on intelligence taken from the results.

The police forces are already planning a week of enforcement and education activity starting next Monday 15 April through to Sunday 21 April, as part of the National Police Chief’s Council campaign. This will see officers use a bus to travel around locations in the Thames Valley and Hampshire to spot motorists breaking the law and using mobile phones.

PC Liz Johnson, a roads safety officer for the Joint Operations Roads Policing Unit, 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% 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.

“My advice would be to turn off your phone whilst driving, put it out of reach, out of view so that more innocent people don’t lose their lives. Remember it’s not worth the risk.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.