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MSN NEWS.Police detectors to catch drivers using mobile phones

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Police detectors to warn mobile phone-using drivers

  • 12 April 2019
Driver on phone Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Thames Valley and Hampshire Police are the first forces to use the mobile detection technology

Mobile phone detectors are to be used by police to find drivers using devices at the wheel.

The Thames Valley and Hampshire forces are rolling out the technology to show when motorists are using their phones.

A sign will flash at the driver telling them to stop using their mobile - but the detectors cannot tell if it is a driver or passenger using the phone.

The mother of Aimee Goldsmith, 11, killed by a driver using a phone, said it was a "step in the right direction".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The detectors are the first of their kind to be used by police in the UK though a similar system has been tried by councils

The technology will not be used as an "enforcement tool", the forces said, but was instead aimed at educating motorists and identifying offending "hotspots".

Kate Goldsmith's daughter was one of four people killed in the crash when lorry driver Tomasz Kroker was using his phone at the wheel in 2016.

She said Aimee's death was "completely avoidable".

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

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

"I have stopped a few people and said, 'you're using a mobile phone - it's actually a driver like you that killed my daughter'," she said.

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

Image copyright TVP
Image caption Aimee Goldsmith with her mum Kate and brother Jake

Kroker killed Aimee, her stepbrothers Ethan Houghton, 13, Joshua, 11, and their mother Tracy, 45, when he ploughed into stationary traffic at 50mph on 10 August 2016.

He was jailed for 10 years after admitting four counts of causing death by dangerous driving and footage showed him on his phone at the moment of impact.

A judge said the 30-year-old's attention had been so poor he "might as well have had his eyes closed" before the crash on the A34 near Newbury.

Image copyright Family Handout
Image caption Tracy Houghton, her son Ethan, stepdaughter Aimee Goldsmith and younger son Josh were all killed in a crash

How does the technology work?

Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary have developed the technology with Westcotec Ltd.

The system, which cannot record footage, was initially tested in Norfolk last year.

The detector picks up 2G, 3G and 4G signals and will therefore flash 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.

The technology cannot distinguish if a passenger or a driver of a vehicle is using a phone and so the sign will be activated regardless of who is using the mobile.

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.

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

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.

p04dqt32.jpg
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDash-cam footage shows Tomasz Kroker at the wheel of his lorry before the crash on the A34 in Berkshire

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Member of public 1

Police have unveiled a new device which can detect when motorists are using their mobile phones while driving.

The new technology, created by Westcotec, can determine how many cars on a stretch of road have phones being used without hands-free kits.  https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/police-detectors-to-catch-drivers-using-mobile-phones/ar-BBVRMQg?ocid=spartandhp   good as I have seen many drivers still using there mobile phones 👍

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David

A great idea, and one I wholeheartedly support. All we need are the police to enforce it.

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Cathedral Bobby
Just now, David said:

A great idea, and one I wholeheartedly support. All we need are the police to enforce it.

Don't know North Yorkshire seems to have vans everywhere. No other visible policing but plenty of speed camera vans lol

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David
Quote

If people are using a Bluetooth hands-free device, the detector will recognise this and not flash.

I'm curious as to how that will be achieved.

 

@Cathedral Bobby North Yorkshire may well seem to have vans everywhere, but as a proportion it's infinitesimal. In any town anywhere I think you can be pretty much be able to count a minimum of three mobile-using drivers within just a few minutes. I'd go out on a limb and say the true number of illegally used phones is astronomical, but drivers know they are able to carry on with impunity since the chances of being caught are slim.

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Cathedral Bobby
Just now, David said:

I'm curious as to how that will be achieved.

 

@Cathedral Bobby North Yorkshire may well seem to have vans everywhere, but as a proportion it's infinitesimal. In any town anywhere I think you can be pretty much be able to count a minimum of three mobile-using drivers within just a few minutes. I'd go out on a limb and say the true number of illegally used phones is astronomical, but drivers know they are able to carry on with impunity since the chances of being caught are slim.

Agreed and it needs stamping on.

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BlueBob
14 hours ago, David said:

...... the true number of illegally used phones is astronomical, .....

My prediction is that despite the device not being able to differentiate who is using the phone, that they will use the number of activations as a quote for DRIVERS using a phone.  

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Cathedral Bobby
40 minutes ago, BlueBob said:

My prediction is that despite the device not being able to differentiate who is using the phone, that they will use the number of activations as a quote for DRIVERS using a phone.

All passengers will need to be banned from using their phone lol

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Techie1

I note that it will detect data use too, so it'll probably alert if you're using sat nav (e.g. Google Maps) over a cable to Android Auto / Apple Car.

Good job it's only a flashing warning, not a fine!

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Cathedral Bobby
Just now, Techie1 said:

I note that it will detect data use too, so it'll probably alert if you're using sat nav (e.g. Google Maps) over a cable to Android Auto / Apple Car.

Good job it's only a flashing warning, not a fine!

So any enforcement really will need the resource of a car to pull the driver over in order to gather further evidence to take forward FPN/prosecution?

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BlueBob
2 hours ago, Cathedral Bobby said:

So any enforcement really will need the resource of a car to pull the driver over in order to gather further evidence to take forward FPN/prosecution?

Yeah, it does make it quite clear it’s an educational tool, much like speed warming signs etc.  There is more to getting compliance that enforcement. 

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Zulu 22
34 minutes ago, BlueBob said:

Yeah, it does make it quite clear it’s an educational tool, much like speed warming signs etc.  There is more to getting compliance that enforcement. 

Sadly, it is only the enforcement that hits the offender in the pocket and in the points on their licence. 

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David

I think I understand this article a little better now.

I had misunderstood what was going on; but it seems it's merely going to flash a roadside sign, not unlike those which can detect you doing more than the posted speed limit and flashes up 'slow down' or a reminder of the speed limit.

As such it seems it's going to be a pointless waste of money, effort and time: with a speed camera the evidence is incontrovertible - vehicle is speeding there can only be one person at fault. How is this going to  tackle the very real problem of mobile usage? Any driver so flashed will simply confidently ignore it, unless there is going to be other photographic and vehicle ID to accompany it.

In fact, it could be argued that without any penalty, it's almost giving the nod to mobile usage and that the police have given up even trying: we know you're doing it, just don't get caught is almost the message here.

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BlueBob
3 minutes ago, David said:

I think I understand this article a little better now.

I had misunderstood what was going on; but it seems it's merely going to flash a roadside sign, not unlike those which can detect you doing more than the posted speed limit and flashes up 'slow down' or a reminder of the speed limit.

As such it seems it's going to be a pointless waste of money, effort and time: with a speed camera the evidence is incontrovertible - vehicle is speeding there can only be one person at fault. How is this going to  tackle the very real problem of mobile usage? Any driver so flashed will simply confidently ignore it, unless there is going to be other photographic and vehicle ID to accompany it.

In fact, it could be argued that without any penalty, it's almost giving the nod to mobile usage and that the police have given up even trying: we know you're doing it, just don't get caught is almost the message here.

Perhaps you are missing the whole package for compliance -policing is not exclusively about enforcement.  Simply by police officers NOT using mobiles or the radios hand held (accepting they may not be under the mobile phone criteria) is as much about education and example visible to a wide audience and as educational a reminder as flashing signs, posters  etc  etc.  Compared to the single recipient of an FPN At the sloth rate of one by one by one.  

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