Mainz (dpa / lrs) – If a cell phone suddenly rings while driving or if there is a traffic jam, many people quickly reach for their cell phone. Also behind the wheel. No one knows exactly how often this distraction leads to serious accidents. Because in retrospect it usually cannot be proved. Now that will change with the pilot project in which Rhineland-Palatinate is pioneering in Germany. The police can learn from the experiences of their colleagues in the Netherlands. “Vision Zero is the goal: zero road fatalities by 2050” – Interior Minister Roger Lewentz (SPD) said on Thursday during the presentation of the system developed in the Netherlands in Mainz.
Lewentz said if a driver looks at his cell phone for one second at 100 kilometers per hour, he will travel 30 meters without being able to see a sudden incident or obstacle. “From 30 meters it quickly gets 60, 90 and more” – lists the minister. “People think they have to be available at all times and not miss anything.” Marcel Masselink of the Dutch Police says: “Everyone knows better not to do this. But the need to reach for a cell phone is great ”.
To reduce the number of road fatalities, police have looked for a device that can determine cell phone use, reports Masselink. She couldn’t find it and therefore developed it herself together with computer scientists from the University of Utrecht. A small company in the Netherlands has been producing devices since 2021 and 20 are already in use in the country. The Rhineland-Palatinate company now has a pilot plant and will use it from June for three months in the Trier area and then for three months in the Mainz area. Many other countries are also interested in the technology, reported Masselink.
The first heavy traffic test on Highway 60 near Mainz on Thursday morning resulted in around 20 violations per hour – although a large sign indicated an inspection. According to Masselink’s experience, half to one percent of all motorists use a mobile phone while driving.
Monocam is the name of the system, one of the devices costs around 20,000 euros, with the most valuable part being a high-performance laptop, police officer Matthias Emmerich said. The system works like this: the laptop and camera are mounted on a tripod and the oncoming traffic is filmed. The devices are connected to computers and screens in a police car that is invisible to drivers. From there, you can control the camera orientation so that drivers can be seen across three lanes, regardless of the incidence of light. The camera only starts in live stream when the mobile phone and the corresponding hand position are detected by the software.
Then, trained policemen assess violations found in the vehicle immediately on the spot. However, not all images are clear enough to stand trial, and some need to be removed again. Others, on the other hand, clearly show the driver using a cell phone or making a call and taking his eyes off the road. The truck driver no longer has his hand on the steering wheel.
In the Netherlands, people accept Monocam, says Masselink. The photos are clear and can be requested by those affected and will soon even be viewed on the Internet. Drivers stuck on Dutch roads must pay 350 euros plus a toll of 9 euros. In Germany, there is a fine of € 100 and a point on the Flensburg driving skills register.
The Monocam is so accurate it even recognizes a British license plate and then immediately points the camera to the other side of the driver, reports Masselink. The only limitation so far: the camera has to be much higher, that is, on the highway bridge, federal or state road, says Emmerich.
Lewentz wants to share with colleagues the results of the pilot project at conferences of interior ministers. The DPO was involved in the pilot project from the very beginning. One result: characters highlight new controls.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220519-99-352433 / 4