A van to film vehicles on motorways and main A roads is being used by National Highways, with artificial intelligence used to spot the law-breakers. The parked vehicle can detect drivers holding a mobile phone at the wheel and people failing to wear a seatbelt. It also has tech to detect tailgating.
A police warning is the punishment for drivers caught, as well as being asked to do a survey to help National Highways, which is in charge of England’s major roads.
The M4 in Berkshire was the first place that the tech was used, which detected 25,000 phone offenders and nearly 7,000 people failing to belt up in six months.
The van packed with detection equipment is part of a research project carried out alongside Warwickshire Police to understand the scale of the problem around these dangerous motoring offences.
Multiple cameras are equipped to the ‘sensor test vehicle’ 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 van is initially being employed for around three months. Findings will inform the next steps and any future deployment.
The research is part of National Highways’ commitment to road safety as its number one priority.
Jeremy Phillips, of National Highways, 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.”
Phone offenders can be fined up to £2,500 while seat-belt penalties are up to £500.