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UK police at all traffic accidents seizing cellphones, seeking fault

updated 11:59 am EDT, Tue July 29, 2014

Response to program positive, with some worry about overzealous enforcement

UK police have launched a new initiative that will authorize police responding to a car accident to seize drivers' mobile phones, even in the case of a minor incident. The program is said to help police assess if any of the individuals involved in the accident were texting or calling while driving, and if the activity resulted in the accident.

Spokesperson Ed Morrow of road safety group Brake said of the policy that "we are fully supportive of the efforts by the police to clamp down on mobile phone use at the wheel. Offenders need to know they will be caught, they will be prosecuted, and there will be serious consequences."

Advocacy group Alliance of British Drivers agrees in principle with the initiative, but disagrees with the implementation. Spokesman Hugh Bladon said that "I am 100 percent against anyone texting while driving, and those caught deserve everything they get. But I'm worried police could overdo it, just because someone is involved in a minor shunt, surely it shouldn't mean they should lose their phone."

UK police report that 500 people each year are killed or seriously injured as a result of driver use of smartphones. In the US, cell phone use factors into an estimated 14,600 fatalities or serious injuries per year.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. mooblie

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-20-09

    Presumably, this is in the same way the police will already breathalize all drivers involved in pretty much any accident looking for alcohol? Good idea.

  1. chimaera

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 04-08-07

    Are there legal limits on what they can search for? ie - only recent logs of calls and texts. Or can the police do a full clone of every smartphone they seize, and examine all contents for evidence of anything else illegal, along with any racy photos? Can they copy GPS records, everywhere that person went since buying the phone?

    Is there a time limit on how long they can keep the phone? An hour is more than enough to check recent contact logs.

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