‘Spy signs’ that detect drivers’ mobile phone use to be trialled in Sussex

Vehicle-activated sign has been funded by Sussex Safer Roads Partnership for use by Brighton and Hove City Council

A new type of vehicle-activated sign (VAS) that can detect when drivers are using their mobile phones is to be tested in Sussex, reports ITV. The signs will be trialled in the Brighton and Hove district initially with plans to employ the technology throughout Sussex.

Vehicle-activated signs are commonly seen by roadsides nowadays. Typically, they will reinforce the speed limit when entering a town or village, but this particular VAS, developed by Thermotor, detects the use of mobile phones within passing vehicles.

Unfortunately the VAS cannot currently record the driver's details, which means it will not result in any prosecutions. The signs, funded by Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, will instead serve as a visual reminder for people to avoid using their phones while driving.

Earlier in the year, we reported that Norfolk County Council and the firm Westotec had been collaborating on a similar device that is able to tell if a mobile phone is being used in a moving car. The sign was being tested in Norwich. A Westotec engineer added that he also expected technology identifying whether a driver is using a hands-free device or not be available in five to ten years.

In February, a Department for Transport (DfT) study found that the percentage of car drivers using a hand-held mobile phone has not gone down since 2009. This was followed in June by an Institute of Advanced Motorists survey in which 72 per cent of respondents said that they would like to see police officers making more effort to tackle the offence.

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