New road signs can detect mobile phones are being used in vehicles

Image      137 road users were seriously injured in accidents involving mobile phones in 2016

New road signs which can spot when you're using your mobile phone while driving are being tested in the United Kingdom.

However, the system won't be able to tell whether the phone is being used by drivers or passengers in the front seat, so the road sign will light up in both cases.

The project, using technology by Westcotec and designed alongside criminologist Dr Helen Wells of Keele University, uses a sensor detecting vehicles where there are active 2G, 3G and 4G phone signals, and an LED warning sign located a short distance along the road.

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

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However, Norfolk's Eastern Daily Press news site says the system does gather data about how often warnings are activated and when. "It is the first such system to have a direct interaction with a mobile phone offender".

The scanners differentiate between radio signals from cellphones and Bluetooth signals, so drivers using a hands-free Bluetooth connection to talk on their phones won't get a warning, the Telegraph reports.

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

'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'.

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More signs are deployed to other towns across the country from next month. Norfolk County Council road safety team will be working closely with the roads policing team to share statistics provided by the detection system.

"Any scheme which prevents this kind of behaviour is welcomed".

Inspector Jonathan Chapman from Norfolk Roads Policing unit said: "We will be using the information provided by Norfolk County Council's road safety team to help us target drivers in the future but the message is simple - leave your phone alone whilst you're behind the wheel".

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