Van that detects if drivers are holding a mobile phone tested in UK

<span>Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA</span>” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ -~B/aD02MDA7dz0xMDAwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/″ data-src=”–/YXBPTxhNgPTxhPTU3kPTbWQ3mGlnaNgmdtoxhPTU3kPTb3mGlnaGlc –/–~B/aD02MDA7dz0xMDAwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/></div>
<p><figcaption class=Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA

A van with technology that can automatically detect drivers holding a mobile phone at the wheel or not wearing a seat belt is being trialled in the UK for the first time.

National Highways is working with Warwickshire Police to trial the “sensor test vehicle” on motorways and major A-roads, and drivers caught could face prosecution.

The initial three-month trial will determine how the technology can be deployed further in the future.

Insp Jem Mountford, of Warwickshire Police, said: “We are very excited to see what impact this new technology has on the behavior of drivers in Warwickshire.

“During the trial, the most serious offenses can be prosecuted, while others receive warning letters which give us the opportunity to explain how they have been caught and ask them to change their behaviour. Next time they might not be so lucky.”

The first van of its kind, which will stand still at the side of the road while in use, is equipped with multiple cameras that can record footage of passing motorists.

Images taken by the cameras are processed with the help of artificial intelligence to find out if the motorists were using a mobile phone, and to detect drivers and passengers who are not wearing seat belts.

Related: UK petrol prices not falling in line with wholesale costs – RAC

Government figures show that there were 420 collisions on UK roads in 2019 where the driver was using a mobile phone at the wheel.

The latest road accident statistics for 2020 show that 23% of car occupants killed in reported road collisions were not wearing seat belts.

Nicholas Lyes, head of road policy at the RAC, said: “For years, the RAC has been calling on the government to explore how camera-based technology can reduce the scourge of drivers putting others at risk by using hand-held phones while driving.”

He said an RAC survey of drivers showed 79% supported this technology being introduced.

“We are very pleased to see National Highways and Warwickshire Police working together on this and very much hope other police forces follow suit in an effort to make our roads safer,” he said.

National Highways said the research was part of its long-term strategy to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on the strategic road network to zero by 2040.

“We want to see if we can change driver behavior and therefore improve road safety for everyone,” said Jeremy Phillips, National Highways’ chief road safety officer.

The van is also capable of being equipped with additional technology to detect tailgate offenses in the future. A new tailgate camera was tested by National Highways on a stretch of the M1 near Northampton, capturing 60,343 instances of vehicles speeding in one year (October 2020 to September 2021).

National Highways currently uses three trucks equipped with cameras and police drivers, with the elevated position allowing police to drive alongside vehicles to film unsafe driver behaviour.

Around 250 dangerous drivers a month are caught as part of the Operation Tramline programme, with hand-held mobile phone use and not wearing a seat belt some of the biggest offenses identified by police.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *