A new roadside system, which detects whether drivers are using their mobile phones while in motion, is being trialled in the UK for the first time.
New electronic roadsigns in Norfolk light up with a ‘no mobile phones’ warning sign whenever they pick up sufficient radio waves from a passing car. Should the signal transmitted be strong and sustained enough to activate the system, drivers will see the sign illuminate as they pass by.
The new system can even distinguish between a Bluetooth connection and handheld use, meaning law-abiding folks connected to their cars or using hands-free headsets will escape a digital shaming.
While there’ll be no direct censure for those busted by the roadsigns, it is hoped they’ll deter drivers from using their phones behind the wheel in future by alerting them to the fact they’ve been rumbled, even if they think they’re doing it on the sly.
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Chris Spinks of the Westcotec firm behind the trials told the BBC: “So many people, by force of habit, can’t resist using their phone.
“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.”
The RAC and the local police in Norfolk are also behind the plans to deter smartphone-happy drivers. Peter Williams, RAC road safety spokesperson, said: “While this new signage is no replacement for a uniformed police officer catching someone in the act, it could be enough to make some drivers think twice – and that has to be a positive step forward.
“So ironically, just as technology has enabled the problem of drivers using mobile phones illegally, it can also be a big part of the solution in getting people to stop.”
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