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Wales Online
Wales Online
Deborah Hall & Steven Smith

Hi-tech van will spot drivers using their phones or not wearing a seatbelt

A trial is about to begin that will see a hi-tech enforcement van detect drivers using their phones or not wearing a seatbelt. National Highways has launched the van, which is about to hit the road.

It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify motorists who are potentially breaking the law. Images captured by AI of potential law-breaking will be sent to an officer to complete a secondary check and then prosecution may follow.

Anyone detected using a handheld mobile phone while driving risks being fined £200 and receiving six points on their licence. If a driver receives six points within the first two years of passing their test, they automatically revert to learner status and will have to retake both the theory and practical tests.

Anyone not wearing a seat belt within a vehicle will risk a £100 fine, with the driver being responsible for any passengers under the age of 14. Where possible, those detected offending may be offered an education course as an alternative to prosecution.

The new trial will see Safer Roads Humber work with National Highways to deploy the van around northern Lincolnshire.

At the same time, Safer Roads Humber is raising awareness of the “Fatal Four” – the main causes of road collisions. These include speeding, using a handheld mobile phone while driving resulting in distraction, driving while impaired through alcohol and drugs, and not wearing a seat belt, which determines the severity of injury in a crash, reports GrimsbyLive.

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Ian Robertson, partnership manager at Safer Roads Humber, said: “It is important that motorists always obey all traffic law, this is for their safety and the safety of other road users. The number of people killed or injured in road collisions across the region has plateaued over the last few years and this is in part due to driver complacency.

"We can’t pick and choose which road traffic laws we obey; all laws should be adhered to, at all times. This new van increases our enforcement capability; our current safety camera vans can already detect mobile phone users and seat belt offences, but this specialist equipment gives us added capacity.

“The majority of motorists drive safely and appropriately most of the time, but a very small minority deliberately drive in a dangerous manner. Using a handheld phone while driving, whether texting, checking your status or ringing friends, is a very deliberate act. Not wearing your seat belt is a very deliberate act and if you’re involved in a collision, you are more likely to be killed or seriously injured. Anyone driving in this manner risks prosecution.”

Jamie Hassall, National Highways’ road safety team leader, said: “This technology has already been deployed on roads elsewhere in the country where it has helped to shine a light on the minority of dangerous drivers who continue to put themselves and others at risk. We want to see if we can change driver behaviour and therefore improve road safety for everyone.”

Safer Roads Humber is a partnership made up of East Riding Council, Hull City Council, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, Humberside Police, National Highways, North East Lincolnshire Council, and North Lincolnshire Council. Its aim is to reduce the number of people killed or injured on the roads and maintain casualty reduction.

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