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New police tech to shame Norfolk motorists for using their mobile phones

Wednesday, January 28th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

A new safety system in Norfolk will shame motorists who use their mobiles while driving by highlighting their phone use to them and other motorists.

The portable system detects if someone is using a mobile phone in a vehicle, whether on a call or receiving or sending a text message, causing a sign further along the road to flash.

It is part of a campaign being run by the Think! Norfolk road safety partnership and is hoped to highlight the dangers of driving behind the wheel.

In October, figures from the Department for Transport showed that the number of accidents where a mobile phone was recorded as a contributory factor had risen by a total of 38% since 2005.

The Mobile Phone Detection System (MPDS), designed by Norfolk-based safety sign specialist Westcotec and exclusive to the county, has already been trialled and has now been installed on a road in Norwich where it will stay for six weeks before moving to other places in Norfolk.

According to Iain Temperton, road safety manager at Norfolk County Council, it will be a “powerful reminder” to those drivers who are detected about the dangers of using their phone while driving.

Mr Temperton said: "The system can't detect whether its a passenger using a phone in a vehicle or whether a hands-free device is being used.

“But of course, those people don't need to be worried if they get a flash from the sign.

“But for those drivers who are on their mobiles, the system is a powerful, effective and very public reminder that they have been detected, and that they are putting those around them at real risk by doing so."

A national week-long enforcement campaign led by the Association of Chief Police Officers, targeting drivers using mobile phones, started on Sunday.

Norfolk Constabulary is warning that if drivers are caught using a mobile phone while behind the wheel they will be given a £60 fixed penalty notice and three penalty points. The fine can rise to £1,000 if taken to court and £2,500 if driving a bus, coach, or HGV.

Chief Inspector Chris Spinks, head of Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit, said: “Driving while using a mobile phone is dangerous because it distracts your attention from the road.

“You can’t second guess the actions of other road users and therefore need to be alert and concentrating 100% to be in a position to deal with the unexpected.

“I welcome any innovations in technology which can be used alongside traditional methods to improve safety on our roads.”

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