Roadside technology will detect phones being used behind wheel

Driving stock

Norwich is about to open up a new front in the war on imbeciles talking on their fun devices while in charge of massive metallic battering rams, with a trial scanner able to detect mobile phone call signals installed to warn drivers to put it down and pay more attention to the road and humans instead of live notifications about sports.

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

However, the system is created to pick up whether the phone is being used hands-free or via a vehicle's Bluetooth system and will not trigger the sign.

The first of three £6,000 electronic signs was yesterday introduced in Norwich, Norfolk.

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 auto.

"Hopefully, as time goes on it will become as socially unacceptable as drink driving".

The system, which is thought to be the first of its kind in the country, is being trialled at four sites in Norfolk from today.

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The move comes amid increasing concerns over the risks posed by drivers using mobile phones at the wheel.

The technology can not record cars' registration or issue fines, but the data it collects will be shared with Norfolk police to set up potential future crackdowns.

Jonathan Chapman, inspector of the Norfolk Roads Policing Unit said: "We will be using the information to help us target drivers in the future but the message is simple - leave your phone alone whilst you're behind the wheel".

For the first time sensors will be installed on British roads that can detect when a mobile phone is being used in a vehicle and present drivers with a warning sign.

"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".

Iain Temperton, team manager for road safety at the county council, described the technology as "cutting-edge" and said it would be used an "educational tool" throughout Norfolk to tackle the problem.

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