Road signs can detect when mobiles are used at the wheel

Doris Richards
July 11, 2018

It is the first system of its kind to be used on roads in the United Kingdom and was developed by warning sign specialists Westcotec along with Norfolk County Council's road safety team.

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 technology can not record cars' registration or issue fines, but the data it collects will be shared with Norfolk police to set up potential future crackdowns.

These signs can detect when signals are being transmitted by a mobile telephone inside a auto, and then flashes a symbol of a mobile phone with a line through it to remind drivers not to use their handsets while behind the wheel. A study in 2016 found that nearly a third of motorists admitted to making phone calls, sending texts, posting on social media...

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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".

The system was developed by Westcotec, a Norfolk-based road traffic technology company.


Inspector Jonathan Chapman, of the Norfolk roads policing unit, added: "This scheme is a good example of how we can work with local authorities to make using a mobile phone whilst driving as socially unacceptable as drink or drug-driving".

The system is able to simultaneously detect bluetooth signals so that anyone legally in a call via their car's speakers is not wrongly issued a warning.

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

"Using a phone at the wheel is one of the fatal four road offences which can have devastating consequences if it causes a fatal or serious collision".

Chris Spinks, from the company's sales team and a former head of roads policing in the region, told The Times that the system was designed to "educate and inform the driver" - Westcotec has no plans to create tech for use in prosecutions.

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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