National Highways trials ‘UK-first’ mobile detection technology

07.57 | 1 August 2022 | | |

A new van is being used by National Highways to trial technology capable of automatically detecting mobile phone and seatbelt offences.

The ‘sensor test vehicle’, which sits stationary at the side of the road, is equipped with multiple cameras that can record footage of passing motorists. 

Offenders caught by the van are being issued with warning letters, although the most serious cases may be prosecuted.

National Highways hopes the trial will provide a better understanding of driver behaviour across the road network.

Jeremy Phillips, National Highways head of road safety, said: “Sadly, there are still drivers who do not feel the need to wear a seatbelt, become distracted by their phones or travel too close to the vehicle in front. 

“We want to see if we can change driver behaviour and therefore improve road safety for everyone. Our advice is clear; please leave enough space, buckle up and give the road your full attention.”

National Highways is deploying the van along a variety of roads, in partnership with Warwickshire Police, for the next three months.

Images captured by the cameras in the van are processed using artificial intelligence (AI) to determine if motorists were using a handheld mobile phone and drivers and passengers were without a seat belt.

Warwickshire Police will then issue warning letters, reminding offenders of the penalties associated with the offences. Drivers will also be asked to complete a short survey which will be used to inform National Highways’ research.

Inspector Jem Mountford, Warwickshire Police, said: “We are really excited to see the impact that this new technology has on the behaviour of drivers in Warwickshire. 

“Our officers deal with the tragic circumstances of collisions where often innocent people have been killed or seriously injured because a driver was distracted by a mobile phone or someone was not wearing a seatbelt.  

“These collisions are preventable but we need all road users to do the right thing and comply with the law to make our roads safer.”

The van is also capable of being kitted with additional technology to detect tailgating offences, although this system does not form part of the trials in Warwickshire.



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