Police with new technology against mobile phone criminals behind the wheel – SWR Aktuell

Quickly reading a mobile phone message while driving or looking for the right route, that’s dangerous. Therefore, the Rhineland-Palatinate police are testing a new surveillance system from June 1st.

The “Monocam” surveillance system is being tested for the first time in Germany. The Dutch police developed it together with the University of Utrecht.

The “Monocam” will be tested from June 1 for three months in the area of ​​the Trier police headquarters and then for three months in the Mainz police headquarters. The Rhineland-Palatinate police and Rhineland-Palatinate Minister of the Interior Roger Lewentz (SPD) presented the “Monocam” on Thursday.

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Already caught 10 mobile phone sinners in the first test

The police installed the “Monocam” on a bridge on the A60 motorway near Mainz-Finthen. It consists of a camera, a laptop with special software, and a surveillance vehicle.

Camera and laptop with special software on highway bridge track cell phone offenders behind the wheel.

It could barely be seen from the road. However, a few hundred meters earlier, motorists had noticed the new mobile phone surveillance system with a large sign. Despite this hint: in the first half hour of its operation, the “Monocam” found ten violations of the ban on mobile phones at the wheel.

Smart technology scans hand posture

The camera and the software make it possible. The camera watches the traffic from above. Intelligent software scans whether the person behind the wheel is holding a device and adopting a certain hand position. If there is a suspicion, the camera takes a photo. This is assessed by specially trained police officers in a surveillance vehicle. Whether the photo clearly shows a mobile phone violation is up to you.

For example, police officers check where the driver is looking, how well the device in his hand can be recognized as a smartphone or tablet, and whether a cell phone manufacturer’s logo can be seen. They also try to determine if the driver is typing on the device or talking on the mobile phone.

The policemen evaluate the photos taken by the new monitoring system of mobile phone users behind the wheel.  (Photo: SWR, Antje Seemann)

Interior Minister Roger Lewentz (SPD) watches as policemen assess photos from the new monitoring system against cell phone use behind the wheel.

Antje Seemann

Test phase of the “Monocam” in Mainz and Trier

Police councilor Matthias Emmerich from Trier heads the state task force for the detection of so-called distraction violations. In his search for such a technique, he contacted his colleagues in the Netherlands. They provided the Rhineland-Palatinate police with a camera and the software for the test phase.

“The main focus of the controls should be the highways. Due to the high speed, there is also a higher risk of serious accidents here,” says Emmerich. In principle, however, it can be used on all roads.

“We want to prevent traffic deaths, not collect fines”

Anyone caught behind the wheel while writing a message or using their mobile phone must pay a fine of 100 euros and receive a point in Flensburg. But the police and the Ministry of the Interior are not worried about the fine, says Matthias Emmerich, they want to prevent people from dying on the streets.

At the end of the day, the pilot project aims to show whether fewer people are using their smartphones while driving in the areas monitored by the “Monocam”.

Evaluation test executed at the end of the year.

The project will be evaluated at the end of the year. If successful, the mobile phone surveillance camera could be used throughout the country. A set consisting of a camera, software and a special laptop costs around 20,000 euros to buy.

The drivers who were caught with a cell phone behind the wheel during the presentation of the “Monocam” on Thursday are getting away with it again. The fine will not expire until June 1.

Regina Anderson

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