09:34AM, Friday 12 April 2019
New technology which can detect when drivers are using their phones without a hands-free device will be used by Thames Valley Police (TVP).
The force’s Joint Operations Unit, which is also part of Hampshire Constabulary, will use the technology to find out how many cars on a stretch of road are using mobiles without hands free.
It will allow TVP and Hampshire to target hotspots and use a sign to tell motorists to stop using their 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 per cent 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.
“In the Thames Valley since 2014 there have been 83 people killed or seriously injured as a result of drivers using their mobile phones and 40 have been killed or seriously injured in Hampshire.
“It is vital that people take notice and stop using their mobile phones whilst driving.”
The technology detects when Bluetooth is being used but can’t tell if it is the passenger is using the phone – but the sign will still be triggered anyway to advise drivers about the dangers of getting distracted by mobile phone use.
TVP announced the use of the technology today. A detector will be put on the A34 in Oxfordshire and other undisclosed parts of the Thames Valley and Hampshire.
Anyone caught using a mobile while driving can get a £200 fine and six points on their licence.
The maximum fine is £1,000 and motorists can be disqualified. Bus and goods vehicles drivers could get a £2,500 fine.
PC Johnson said: “The Joint Operations Unit will continue to educate people of the dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving through our ‘It’s Not Worth The Risk’ campaign and reduce the devastating impact it can have on people’s lives.
“We will be utilising the new technology from Westcotec to help inform our enforcement activity to find hotspots and also further educate motorists.
“Additionally, officers will be carrying out enforcement activity throughout next week. We will be utilising a bus in order to travel around locations in the Thames Valley and Hampshire to spot motorists breaking the law and using mobile phones.
“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.”
Norfolk-based Westcotec’s managing director Chris Spinks said: “Our system is designed to provide intelligence to police officers so that they can carry out enforcement activity in order to reduce the amount of people who are using mobile phones illegally on our roads.
“Our technology provides a visual sign to motorists who are using a mobile phone whilst driving without Bluetooth.
“We are pleased to be working with the Joint Operations Unit for Thames Valley and Hampshire Police to reduce the devastating impact of people driving whilst using a mobile phone.
“We will continue to develop new technologies so that we can help reduce people being injured and losing loved ones through the needless use of mobile phones whilst driving.”
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