As UK looks to tighten laws on in-vehicle phone use, ITS leaders promise enforcement

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The UK Government has announced new laws that will ban drivers from using their phone to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists, or play games, meaning anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their licence.

Now, traffic enforcement experts are calling for technology to be used to police mobile and seatbelt use
A director of leading enforcement technology company Jenoptik is welcoming the tightening of laws, and says proven solutions exist to enforce the rules automatically.

“Our role at Jenoptik is to make the roads safer, and so we fully support these new rules because they will close loopholes that have meant irresponsible people getting away with dangerously using their mobiles, while driving,” says Jenoptik’s Geoff Collins. “But as we all know, there’s a difference between a law being in place, and people obeying it; and for that you need appropriate enforcement.

Drivers in the UK will soon be penailised even for scrolling through playlists ©Adobestock

“The good news is that we have been testing a roadside solution that uses Artificial Intelligence to automatically spot when someone is using a mobile device or not wearing a seatbelt, and we’re therefore able to automatically identify those rulebreakers. This means we can take pictures of their offence, let a human double-check it, and then any penalty can be issued.”

The UK team at Jenoptik have been working with Acusensus, an Australian company who have already successfully implemented the solution to great effect in New South Wales, operating as the world’s first illegal mobile phone use enforcement camera program. Since the commencement of the program in 2019, there has been a significant and sustained reduction in NSW road fatalities compared to other states and territories in Australia.

“Being part of a global organisation means we can take effective solutions from one part of the world and bring them to the UK market,” Geoff Collins continues. “We are confident in our solution, consistently identifying hundreds of potential violations every week. An enforcement officer makes the final check, but the technology sifts out the dangerous drivers to vastly increase the chances that those irresponsible enough to use their phone whilst driving will be caught.”

Jenoptik hope to roll out the technology to the UK in the New Year.

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About Author

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).