Police deploy new tech to catch dangerous drivers
New roadside cameras catch drivers speeding, using mobiles and not wearing seatbelts
The police are trialling new roadside cameras to catch drivers using their mobile phone behind the wheel.
The technology can also detect whether drivers are wearing a seatbelt.
Selected routes across Devon and Cornwall will be focused on over the next two months.
The trial is being funded by the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership. This is overseen by Devon and Cornwall Police.
Supt Adrian Leisk, strategic roads policing lead for Devon and Cornwall Police, such actions by drivers are “both dangerous and illegal”. He goes on to state the risk it puts on the lives of the driver, passengers and other road users “is unacceptable”.
“We are employing this new technology to send a clear message to anyone who continues to use their phone behind the wheel – you will get caught.”
The Acusensus system is housed in a vehicle equipped with multiple cameras. These record footage of passing motorists, as seen in the still photo below, alongside registration details.
Images captured by the cameras are processed using artificial intelligence (AI). This can determine if motorists were using a handheld mobile phone or if drivers and passengers were without a seat belt. It can also determine the speed a vehicle was travelling at the time.
Any images in which a potential offence is detected are then reviewed. If an offence has been correctly identified, the driver will either be sent a warning letter or a notice of intended prosecution, depending on the severity.
In 2020, a national road safety survey was commissioned by Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and then APCC lead for road safety.
Of the 66,000 people who responded, 55% said they witnessed road traffic offences such as using a mobile phone or not wearing a seatbelt on a daily basis. Of these, 21% saying they witnessed them on a weekly basis. Furthermore, 81% of respondents agreed that road traffic offences required more enforcement.
Commissioner Hernandez, is also chairman of the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership. He says: “Road safety is one of four priorities in my Police and Crime Plan. There are too many people being killed or seriously injured on Devon and Cornwall’s roads.”
“Distracted driving is a common cause of collisions, which is exactly why it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving.
The new technology provides greater opportunity “to improve compliance with these laws”. It can also be achieved without a large increase in traffic officers on the road.
A potential solution
RAC road safety spokesperson Simon Williams welcomes the news, pointing out they have been calling for it to be trialled for four years.
“The police can’t be everywhere all of the time so it makes sense”, says Williams. He adds that there “remains a huge problem when it comes to drivers either not buckling up or using mobile phones illegally”.
“Drivers are widely supportive of tougher enforcement of the law around handheld mobile phone use, with nearly half of these (47%) saying that camera technology like this is the best way of doing so.”