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New technology can detect drivers using mobile phones

Norfolk County Council is trialling new technology that can detect if a handheld mobile phone is being used in a car and warn accordingly.

The new system is being used to identify mobile phone use from within a vehicle

The new system is being used to identify mobile phone use from within a vehicle

Developed in partnership with Westcotec, the system – said to be the first of its kind – can identify what type of signal is being transmitted or received by the handset and whether it is being used via the vehicle’s Bluetooth system. If drivers are using a handheld phone, a road sign is activated, flashing up a warning to the driver.

The technology can’t currently distinguish between driver and passenger use and does not currently record footage, although the council said this is likely to be a future development.

The detection units will be used at specific sites for a month before moving to a new location. Norfolk County Council road safety team will also be working closely with the roads policing team to share statistics provided by the detection system, enabling the police to monitor the locations going forwards if required.

Inspector Jonathan Chapman from Norfolk Roads Policing unit said: “This scheme is a good example of how we can work with local authorities to make using a mobile phone whilst driving as socially unacceptable as drink or drug-driving. Any scheme which prevents this kind of behaviour is welcomed.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.