Posted: Fri 29th Jul 2022

New research van rolled out on England’s motorway network to detect dangerous driving

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jul 29th, 2022

New mobile technology capable of automatically detecting motorists who fail to wear a seatbelt or hold mobile phones at the wheel is being trialled in the UK for the first time.

A new van packed with detection equipment has hit England’s motorways and major A-roads.

The van can detect drivers holding a mobile phone at the wheel and people failing to wear a seatbelt, it will also be able to detect tailgating vehicles in the future.

The van is part of a research project carried between National Highways and Warwickshire Police to understand the scale of the problem around these dangerous motoring offences

The ‘sensor test vehicle’ is equipped with multiple cameras which can record footage of passing motorists.

Images captured by the cameras are processed using artificial intelligence (AI) to determine if motorists were using a handheld mobile phone and drivers and passengers were without a seat belt.

The vehicle, which will be stationary at the side of the road while in use, is being trialled over a period of almost three months.

The warning letters, issued by police, will remind drivers that they could be fined up to £500 for not wearing a seat belt in addition to penalty points.

Drivers will also be asked to complete a short survey which will be used to inform National Highways’ research.

Using the technology in a van will allow National Highways to test it across different types of road to better understand driver behaviour across the network.

The van is initially being employed for around three months.

“Findings will inform the next steps and any future deployment.” National Highways has said.

Government figures show that there were 420 collisions on British roads in 2019 in which the driver was using a mobile phone at the wheel.

The latest road casualty statistics for 2020 show that 23% of car occupant fatalities in reported road collisions were not wearing a seatbelt.

National Highways Head of Road Safety Jeremy Phillips said:

“Safety remains our top priority and we want everyone to get to their destination safely.”

“Sadly, there are still drivers who do not feel the need to wear a seatbelt, become distracted by their phones or travel too close to the vehicle in front.”

“We want to see if we can change driver behaviour and therefore improve road safety for everyone. Our advice is clear; please leave enough space, buckle up and give the road your full attention.”

“Around 25% of road deaths were linked to not wearing a seatbelt in 2018.”

“In the same year, 117 people were killed or seriously injured in a collision where the driver was found to have been distracted.”

“A recent trial of new static road side tailgating cameras on a stretch of the M1 captured 60,343 occasions of vehicles driving too close, in just one year.”

“The advice from National Highways is clear: leave plenty of space, buckle up and leave your phone alone.”

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