People who use their phones behind the wheel may soon be caught out by new smart road signs that pick up active phone signals.
The road signs, which are being trialled in Norfolk, can tell the difference between active phone calls and other activities based on the strength of a signal and how long it lasts. When it detects activity, it will flash up a red warning signal to drivers.
In case you’re wondering if it’ll wrongly call you out, the system is able to simultaneously detect bluetooth signals so that anyone legally in a call via their car’s speakers is not wrongly issued a warning.
The technology cannot yet log number plates or be used to help catch offending drivers, but it is hoped it will act as a deterrent.
Holding a phone while driving is illegal in the UK but remarkably, 23% of people admitted to taking a call in last year’s RAC Report on Motoring.
Inspector Jonathan Chapman from Norfolk Roads Policing said: “Any scheme which prevents this kind of behaviour is welcomed. Using a mobile 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.
“We will be using the information provided by Norfolk County Council’s road safety team to help us target drivers in the future but the message is simple – leave your phone alone whilst you’re behind the wheel.”
Norfolk County Council’s road safety team have worked with speed and warning sign specialists Westcotec on deploying the signs, which are a first for UK roads.
Although the signs are unable to log offending number plates, such a feature is being considered for development in the future. There is also no facility for the signs to record footage.
For now, a counter will keep track of phone usage on the road to help authorities understand driver habits.
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.
“Whilst this is still not a perfect science, the new generation of sign is significantly more accurate and reliable than the first.”