In Depth

Mobile phone-detecting road signs launched on UK highways

Data recorded can help police crack down on dangerous drivers

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

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. 

The sign can distinguish whether drivers are using their phone through their car’s Bluetooth system, so motorists do not get a warning if they are using a hands-free system, the broadcaster adds.

If they are holding their phone, however, the sign will display a red cross with a handset in the centre. 

The sign is intended to act as a deterrent, by shaming perpetrators, but does not record footage or number plates.

However, Norfolk’s Eastern Daily Press news site says the system does gather data about how often warnings are activated and when. This information will be shared with police, “who might then use it to set up future crackdowns.”

Inspector Jonathan Chapman of the roads policing unit in Norfolk, where the signs are being trialled, said: “Using a mobile phone at the wheel is one of the road offences that can have devastating consequences if it causes a fatal or serious collision.”

“We will be using the information provided by Norfolk County Council’s road safety team to help us target drivers in the future,” he added.

More signs are deployed to other towns across the country from next month.

The sign’s introduction comes amid increasing concern about the risks posed by using a phone while driving.

In a 2016 study, a third of motorists admitted to using a mobile behind the wheel, leading to the introduction of “tougher penalties to tackle the problem” in March last year, reports The Sunday Times

If caught, drivers get six points on their licence and a fine of £200.

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