Mobile phone warning road signs 'a United Kingdom first'

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Diane Steiner, deputy director of public health said: "Our priority in public health is to make Norfolk a healthy and safe place to live and the new technology enables us to provide a reminder to drivers who may be using their handset whilst driving".

The road signs work by using a scanner to detect the radio signals emitted when someone in the auto is connected to a call, with this data used to illuminate a sign further down the road.

The roadside system, which is being piloted in Norfolk, picks up the signal in the vehicle and activates a warning sign of a phone with a red line through it, the BBC reports.

The sign, which for the next four weeks will be at Holt Road, Norwich, is able to identify what type of signal is being transmitted or received by the handset and whether it is being used via the vehicle's Bluetooth system.

Norfolk police have been particularly eager to crackdown on phone use at the wheel, with more than 120 people caught committing the offence during Operation Ringtone - which ran in the county in January.

Council leaders and police have unveiled a new weapon in the fight to stop drivers using mobile phones when they're behind the wheel.

The technology can not log number plates or be used to catch offenders yet, but these advancements are being considered for the future and it is hoped the current system will act as a deterrent.

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Norfolk County Council's road safety team have worked with speed and warning sign specialists Westcotec on deploying the next-level signs, which are a first for United Kingdom roads.

Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of Norfolk County Council's communities committee, said: "Using a mobile phone whilst driving is an enormous distraction and apart from being illegal puts the lives of the driver, passengers and pedestrians at risk".

Chris Spinks, from the company's sales team and a former head of roads policing in the region, told The Times that the system was designed to "educate and inform the driver" - Westcotec has no plans to create tech for use in prosecutions.

"Whilst this is still not a ideal science, the new generation of sign is significantly more accurate and reliable than the first".

In 2016, figures from the Department for Transport showed that drivers using mobile phones were involved in accidents which killed the equivalent of one person every 10 days in 2016.

After its launch on Holt Road, Norwich, the equipment will then move on to Cromer Road in Holt, Shipdham Road in Toftwood and Norwich Road in Attleborough.

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