Mobile phone warning road signs 'a United Kingdom first'

Donna Miller
July 11, 2018

Officials have worked with Dereham company Westcotec to develop the system which will flash a warning signal to drivers, similar to those for speeding, if a phone is being used in the vehicle.

Those caught using their mobile phones at the wheel by the police face a £200 fine and six points on their licence, following the introduction of tougher laws past year. It was claimed that the technology, which is initially being introduced in Norfolk, could be adapted as part of a system to catch and fine motorists, although this is not possible at present.

But some phone users may get through, as the scanners won't pick up data connections from drivers using internet service on their phones. A study in 2016 found that nearly a third of motorists admitted to making phone calls, sending texts, posting on social media...

The new mobile phone detection system, which is launched today, is the first of its kind to be used on roads in the country and can identify mobile phone use from within a vehicle.

Norfolk County Council's road safety team have worked with speed and warning sign specialists Westcotec on deploying the next-level signs, which are a first for United Kingdom roads.

Norfolk County Council's Road Safety team have developed the technology in partnership with vehicle sign technology local company Westcotec.

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"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".

In 2016, figures from the Department for Transport showed that drivers using mobile phones were involved in accidents which killed the equivalent of one person every 10 days in 2016.

Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of Norfolk County Council's communities committee, said: "Using a mobile phone whilst driving is an enormous distraction and apart from being illegal puts the lives of the driver, passengers and pedestrians at risk".

Norfolk roads policing Inspector Jonathan Chapman said the scheme is "welcomed".

After an initial presence at Holt Road, the equipment will then spend a month at Cromer Road, Holt; Shipdham Road, Toftwood and Norwich Road, Attleborough.

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