Norfolk targets drivers with new mobile phone detection system

Saturday, 14 Jul, 2018

The digital sign, the first of its kind, uses technology that can detect if a mobile phone is in use in a passing vehicle, the BBC reports.

Using your phone while driving in the UK?

A new road sign that detects and warns drivers against using their mobile phone behind the wheel is being piloted in the United Kingdom from this week.

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 auto.

"We are delighted to have been able to partner with Westcotec to trial this new technology across Norfolk".

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. It can identify what type of signal is being transmitted or received by the phone and whether it is being used through the vehicle's Bluetooth system.

If it proves successful in Norfolk, the phone-detecting road signs may be rolled out across the country.

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".

"Whilst this is still not a flawless science, the new generation of sign is significantly more accurate and reliable than the first".

The technology can not log number plates or be used to catch offenders yet, but these advancements are being considered for the future and it is hoped the current system will act as a deterrent. Norfolk County Council road safety team will be working closely with the roads policing team to share statistics provided by the detection system.

If the signal detected indicates that a mobile phone is being used inside a vehicle, a road sign with a flashing visual message is activated as the vehicle passes to prompt drivers to stop using their phones.