The first sign which detects if drivers are using a mobile phone whilst driving and then flash up a warning has been installed in Norfolk.
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.
Westcotec says as long as the activation meets certain pre-determined parameters, the sensor will pick up that a driver is using a phone for calling, text or data purposes and will activate the warning sign. This shows an illuminated mobile phone icon within a bright red circle and diagonal red line. The technology can detect if a driver is using Bluetooth, and will therefore not trigger the warning sign. However the company does accept that some activations might be triggered by non-driving occupants.
“This device is purely about education, warning drivers and being able to identify when the driver was on the phone,” the company says. “It is the first such system to have a direct interaction with a mobile phone offender. We are not currently connecting the system with enforcement, but we plan to work towards that.”
Westcotec says the strength of vehicle-activated LED signs is that they identify the offender and only trigger when they’re necessary.
Dr Wells writes a thought piece about public acceptance of enforcement in the current issue of SMART Highways. To read it click here.