Thames Valley and Hampshire Police are rolling out the use of mobile detection technology to find drivers using devices while behind the wheel.

The technology works to show the police when motorists are using their phones – and then flashes a warning at the driver telling them to stop. The technology will not be used as an “enforcement tool”, and will instead focus on educating motorists and identifying offending “hotspots”. But at the minute, the detectors can’t tell if it is a driver or passenger using their phone.

Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary have developed the new technology with Westcotec Ltd – and although the doctors are the first of their kind to be used by police in the UK, similar systems have been tried by councils. The two detectors will be located on the A34 in Oxfordshire but will be posted at different locations throughout the Thames Valley and Hampshire



Essentially, the detector works by picking up 2G, 3G and 4G signals – before flashing to alert people in cars who are using their phones. And if people are using a Bluetooth hands-free device, the detector will recognise it and not flash. At the minute, the technology cannot tell if a passenger or a driver of a vehicle is using a phone – so the warning sign will be activated regardless of who’s using the mobile.  

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Matt Barber, said the system was “not fool-proof”, but added that the police needed to “make it as socially unacceptable to use your mobile whilst driving as it is to drink and drive”.

Tony Carter

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