New technology targets drivers using mobiles

New technology is being deployed in Norfolk to detect motorists using a mobile phone while driving.

Feb 18, 2015
By Paul Jacques

New technology is being deployed in Norfolk to detect motorists using a mobile phone while driving.

The portable system targets those using a mobile phone in a vehicle, whether on a phone call or receiving or sending a text message. A roadside sensor monitors oncoming vehicles, sending information to a sign further along the road that flashes when mobile phone use has been detected in the vehicle.

It is part of the latest enforcement and promotional campaign being run by the Think! Norfolk road safety partnership to remind drivers that using a mobile when behind the wheel is one of the biggest causes of accidents and fatalities on our roads.

The Mobile Phone Detection System (MPDS), designed by Dereham-based safety sign specialist Westcotec, is exclusive to Norfolk and has already been successfully trialled at a number of locations across the county.

Iain Temperton, road safety manager at Norfolk County Council, said the MPDS had proved to be a “flexible and extremely useful piece of equipment” during trials and they were now ready to roll out across the county.

“The system can’t detect whether it’s a passenger using a phone in a vehicle or whether a hands-free device is being used,” explained Mr Temperton. “But of course, those people do not need to be worried if they get a flash from the sign. But for those drivers who are on their mobiles, the system is a powerful, effective and very public reminder that they have been detected and that they are putting those around them at real risk by doing so.”

Norfolk Constabulary used the MPDS during the Association of Chief Police Officers’ week-long national enforcement campaign at the end of January targeting drivers using mobile phones.

Chief Inspector Chris Spinks, head of Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit, said: “Driving while using a mobile phone is dangerous because it distracts your attention from the road. You can’t second guess the actions of other road users and therefore need to be alert and concentrating 100 per cent to be in a position to deal with the unexpected. I welcome any innovations in technology that can be used alongside traditional methods to improve safety on our roads.”

The initiative is the latest in the Think! Norfolk partnership’s push to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads by asking them one simple question about the ‘fatal four’ driving behaviours which can cause them: “Why wouldn’t you… Drive sober? Belt up? Ignore it? Slow down?”

Cllr Jenny Chamberlin, vice-chair of Norfolk County Council’s Road Casualty Reduction Partnership Board, said it supports any campaign that aims to deter people from using a mobile phone while driving.

The Think! Norfolk partnership is made up of Norfolk Constabulary, Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, Norfolk Safety Camera Partnership and the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

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