Police in Warwickshire are testing a roadside van that picks up if a driver is using their mobile phone. The van is in operation for a three-month trial. Following the trial, drivers who were caught using their phones might be prosecuted.
The unusual vehicle uses multiple cameras and sensors to check whether cellphones are in use. It’s also able to determine whether a driver is wearing their seatbelt.
‘Find my phone’
The “sensor test vehicle”, as it’s called, captures footage of passing vehicles. An artificial intelligence system analyses those images for phone and seatbelt violations. It’s apparently able to tell if a phone was in use, or if drivers and passengers weren’t wearing seatbelts. The van can also be fitted with a device that detects tailgating (driving too close to the car ahead) violations.
“During the trial the most serious breaches may be prosecuted, with others receiving warning letters, giving us the opportunity to explain how they have been caught and asking them to change their behaviour. Next time they may not be so lucky,” said Warwickshire police.
Inspector Jem Mountford said, “We are really excited to see the impact this new technology has on the behaviour of drivers in Warwickshire.”
Nicholas Lyes, of the Royal Automobile Club, said that 79% of drivers surveyed supported the rollout of this technology.
“For several years the RAC has been urging the government to explore how camera-based technology could reduce the scourge of drivers who put others at risk by using handheld phones while driving,” said Lyes.
In Britain in 2019, there were 420 collisions that involved a driver using a mobile phone. 23% of car occupants who died in crashes in the UK in 2020 were not wearing seatbelts.
This isn’t the first time UK police have used camera-based tech on misbehaving drivers. Operation Tramline is a British operation that uses three trucks (of the large variety) and their elevated positions to let cops watch drivers misbehaving. Police pull up next to cars on the road to film what’s going on inside. Up to 250 drivers a month are caught mucking around on phones or not wearing seatbelts. Sounds like a perfectly acceptable use of surveillance technology. Obviously.
Source: The Guardian