Australian AI road safety company Acusensus has announced it is building three new trailers for use in the UK equipped with its tried-and-tested solutions to automatically detect people illegally using mobile phones at the wheel, or not wearing a seatbelt.
The trailers will be delivered in early summer 2023, and will be used to identify road users illegally using their mobile devices or not wearing a seatbelt using Acusensus’s patented ‘Heads-up’ technology to clearly analyse images captured through windscreens.
The deployments follow successful pilots delivered with Aecom, National Highways and Police Forces across the UK which identified drivers who continue to break the law by using phones at the wheel or not using a seatbelt.
Figures from PACTS suggest around 30% of vehicle occupant road deaths each year are linked to not wearing a seatbelt and more than 100 people are killed or seriously injured in a collision where the driver was found to have been distracted. Furthermore the road safety charity, Brake, found that those using their phones while driving were four times more likely to be in an accident and twice as likely to crash compared to drink driving.
The Acusensus ‘Heads Up’ cameras have been optimised to flag up likely violations, using advanced AI software that analyses images in near real time. When a possible case of distracted driving is identified by the software, anonymised images are sent to a secure cloud for later human review, which validates if a potential offence has occurred. A further secondary check will validate this and then allows for the creation of an offence file, which can be used by the police for prosecution, and indeed has as part of the early UK trials.
Figures from Australia, where the first state-wide scheme rolled out in New South Wales in 2019, shows the technology has had a significant impact on driver behaviour, with the number of mobile phone detections dropping by a factor of six (1 in 82 drivers in 2019 to 1 in 478 drivers in 2021). A subsequent programme in Queensland has similarly started to show active changes in behaviour.
“The van-based safety checks on our roads have shown a small but significant number of drivers who are still irresponsibly putting themselves and other drivers at risk by using a phone while driving, and not wearing a seatbelt,” says Acusensus UK general manager Geoff Collins. “The investment in these extra trailers means we can deploy our life-saving technology at specific locations for longer, getting a better idea of the scale of the problem, the number of repeat offenders and the types of drivers involved. This will help Highway Authorities and Police Forces to build a strategy to address these dangers, change behaviours and make our roads safer.”
The Acusensus ‘Heads Up’ system won the ITS (UK) Enforcement Scheme of the Year Award in October for a project delivered with Aecom, National Highways and Warwickshire Police. The judges described it as, “An innovative approach for identifying drivers not wearing seatbelts or using a mobile phone, that should be both scalable and offer an efficient way of detecting these offences compared to current methods.”
“This is a step forward for Acusensus technology in the UK, with additional equipment being manufactured to deliver on the existing partnerships that we have been able to develop locally, commented Alexander Jannink, founder and Managing Director of Acusensus. “I am confident that as this programme is expanded we will see driver behaviour change, resulting in safer roads, making a significant impact on reducing road collisions and fatalities in the UK.”