Police are trialling a new device that can detect if drivers are using a mobile phone behind the wheel and if so, send them a visual warning.
Developed by technology company Westcotec, the device is being trialled by Hampshire and Thames Valley Police’s Joint Operations Roads Policing Unit.
The device has the ability to pick up Bluetooth signals, so if it detects mobile phone use from a car, it can tell whether or not it’s being used via a hands-free system, such as an infotainment system.
If it detects a phone is being used without a Bluetooth connection, it will display a large symbol of a mobile phone with a red line through it to remind the car’s driver of the dangers of being distracted by a phone.
One shortcoming the device does have, though, is it cannot tell if a mobile phone inside a car is being used by the driver or one of the passengers.
The device will be used as part of a week of “enforcement and education activity” from Monday 15 April to Sunday 21 April, as part of a National Police Chief Council campaign.
The device will be placed somewhere along the A34 in Oxfordshire, as well as in various locations across Hampshire and Thames Valley, with officers in the latter area planning to stop drivers whose cars are singled out by the device.
Harsher penalties for using a mobile phone behind the wheel were introduced in March 2017. Motorists who are caught committing the offence now receive six penalty points on their driving licence and a fine of £200. In addition, if the case goes to caught, drivers can be disqualified and receive a maximum fine of £1,000.
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