New mobile phone detectors deployed by police

Using your phone whilst driving? Perhaps you have a cheeky look at it when you’re stuck in traffic or in a long tail-back?

Well, beware, because the police are now starting to roll out automatic systems which will attempt to spot your phone usage and then flash a large sign like the above.

The system, which is detailed here and made by Westcotec, will “educate” drivers and comprises of a sensor which detects active 2G, 3G or 4G signals coming from your car. This, if I’m honest, immediately got me questioning it because my phone sits on the dashboard collecting email, tweets, WhatsApp messages and will usually be streaming music whilst I’m driving – so the system would detect that 4G data usage and then will show the warning sign at me even though it’s not being actively used.

Indeed, the manufacturers admit that they’re not able to detect if it’s in your hand or even if it’s your phone – it could be your passenger. However, it’s a learning tool if nothing else. Thames Valley and Hampshire police are to deploy the technology, and Matt Barber, deputy police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley, admitted that the system was “not fool-proof”, but wanted to ensure that hand-held use whilst driving was made “as socially unacceptable … as it is to drink and drive”.

Now, I’m all for discouraging phone use whilst driving, but these things are £6,000 each and can’t detect who in the car has the phone, whether it’s in the hand or whether it’s just downloading background data. What’s the point of all the cleverness? I think Coolsmartphone could sell the police an LED sign with a proximity sensor in it which flashes at every passing car. It would retail at £6,000 still, but we’d be making about £5,500 flat profit on every unit. Anyone interested in going into partnership?