Roadside system detects phone use in cars, activates warning sign

People using their phones while driving will be getting warning messages if they do so in Norfolk.

Jonathan Brady – PA Images

British road safety authorities are reportedly testing a roadside system for detecting phone use in cars.

The roadside system, which is being piloted in Norfolk, picks up the signal in the vehicle and activates a warning sign of a phone with a red line through it, the BBC reports.

It can’t tell whether the driver or a passenger is using the phone, but authorities hope it will give drivers a reminder of safety concerns. It can detect when a phone is being used in a hands-free system or via Bluetooth, in which case the sign won’t be triggered.

The system was developed by Westcotec, a Norfolk-based road traffic technology company.

Chris Spinks, from the company’s sales team and a former head of roads policing in the region, told The Times that the system was designed to “educate and inform the driver” — Westcotec has no plans to create tech for use in prosecutions.

However, the county council told the BBC that setting up the system to record specific number plates could be a “future development,” and that statistics from the devices will be shared with Norfolk Police.

The signs have been set up in four locations around Norfolk and will be moved to new sites in a month.

In April, the safe driving app EverDrive revealed that being on phones was Americans’ second most unsafe driving habit behind speeding. A total of 37 percent of US drivers use their devices an average of 11 percent of trips.

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