Hampshire police could use flashing signs to warn drivers who use phones at the wheel

DRIVERS using their mobile phones at the wheel will be confronted with a flashing sign with new technology being brought in to cut deaths and injuries.

Friday, 12th April 2019, 11:01 am
Updated Friday, 12th April 2019, 11:07 am
The signs which could be used in Hampshire soon

Highways England is splashing out £10,000 on two signs that will warn drivers if the kit detects a phone call in progress but with no Bluetooth set being used at the same time.

Data from the devices on how many people used a phone without a hands-free kit will be fed back to Hampshire police and Thames Valley’s road policing unit.

They are the first unit in the country to use the technology, designed by speed sign firm Westcotec.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The signs which could be used in Hampshire soon

This will help officers target particular roads if they know it is particularly bad for people using their phones at the wheel.

Deployment of the technology comes as officers will run a week of action from Monday. The signs will also pick up passengers using their phones.

initially the two signs will be deployed on the A34 in Oxfordshire but could come to Hampshire. The county has seen 40 incidents involving mobile phones where people have been killed or seriously injured.

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.

Police are starting a crackdown on mobile phone use in cars

‘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 Hampshire.

‘It is vital that people take notice and stop using their mobile phones whilst driving.’

The mother of 11-year-old girl killed on the A34 in 2016 is backing the use of the new technology.

Norfolk firm 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.’