Roadside system detects phone use in cars, activates warning sign

Donna Miller
July 10, 2018

Norfolk county council is installing Westcotec's roadside detector on one of the bits of the A140 it oversees, and claims it can pick up the radio signals emitted when someone's connected to a call; using this to illuminate a warning-not-to sign farther down the road.

When the system indicates a mobile phone is being used within the vehicle, the road sign is activated as the vehicle passes, prompting the driver to stop using their phone.

The move comes amid increasing concerns over the risks posed by drivers using mobile phones at the wheel. This means those using Bluetooth for a hands-free connection, will not be warned by the sign, as if the scanner picks up a Bluetooth signal, it will disable the light.

The system will initially be used at sites in Attleborough, Holt, Norwich and Toftwood.

"The system cannot differentiate between a driver and the passengers on a bus, for example, but this goes some way towards remotely warning drivers that they can be detected using their phone".

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Iain Temperton, team manager for road safety at the county council, described it as "cutting-edge technology" which would be used as an "educational tool" throughout Norfolk to try and tackle the problem.

However, the county council told the BBC that setting up the system to record specific number plates could be a "future development", and that statistics from the devices will be shared with Norfolk Police.

Insp Jonathan Chapman, of Norfolk Roads Policing unit, said: "Any scheme which prevents this kind of behaviour is welcomed".

New roadside technology is being introduced to deter motorists from using mobile phones at the wheel, it will be announced today.

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