UK police, signage manufacturer collaborate on device to battle texting drivers

Cell phones may soon be banned for drivers in the U.S.

Two UK police departments are collaborating with a transportation specialist to develop a device that will detect motorists using their cellphones while driving, and send them a warning that tells them to stop.

Obviously, the device isn’t aimed at motorcyclists, who are usually too busy handling clutch, throttle and brakes to be diddling about on a cellphone. Instead, it’s aimed at car/van/truck drivers, and that’s a very good thing for riders, as distracted drivers are proving to be a greater and greater threat to motorcyclists’ safety.

According to MoreBikes, Thames Valley and Hampshire police are working with the traffic signage manufacturers Westcotec to build a device that is installed roadside to monitor both mobile phone signals and passing traffic. The device will scan the 2G, 3G and 4G bandwidths to pick up signals, and through some manner of electronic voodoo, determines if the origin of those signals is moving.

If the device determines a signal is being sent by a motorist, it will send a warning that flashes on their device’s screen. The designers have also cleverly figured out how to determine if the device is in hands-free Bluetooth mode, and will not send a message if that’s the case (which raises the question, just how much are they digging into our phones, hrm?).

What they haven’t figured out is, how do you know if it’s a driver or passenger on the phone? Both drivers and their passengers will get the messages, with the device in its current configuration.

However, given the device’s intended purpose, that might not be so bad. The roadside gadget isn’t intended to serve an enforcement purpose—it’s only supposed to raise awareness, and telling people they shouldn’t be texting and driving isn’t a bad idea, even if they aren’t driving at the time they’re told that.


  1. So to stop drivers being distracted your going to distract them even more by sending warnings to their phone. Yeah good one.

  2. Guys it’s really bad here in downtown Toronto.
    Nine out of ten people are working their phones furiously in heavy rush-hour traffic!
    Traffic moves, green turn-arrow lights up, they don’t go.
    People trying to break out from sidestreet into traffic, you give them a space but – they don’t go.
    They’re simply not paying attention. I don’t let anyone in anymore (because it just makes one look foolish).
    There is no enforcement! Zero.
    And… dangerous to motorcyclists? Oh yes. Bit of an understatement, that.

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