Roadside system detects phone use in cars, activates warning sign

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Jonathan Chapman, of Norfolk Roads Policing unit, told the BBC.

Officials have worked with Dereham company Westcotec to develop the system which will flash a warning signal to drivers, similar to those for speeding, if a phone is being used in the auto.

The county is introducing road signs that use scanners to electronically detect the radio signals transmitted when mobile phones are connected to a call-and then flash a symbol (on a sign further down the road) showing a cellphone with a line through it to the offending driver to remind him or her such behavior is a no-no.

Westcotec, who are based in Dereham, Norfolk, are working with authorities across the world - including those in Argentina, Slovenia and New Zealand - to implement the mobile phone warning technology.

However, the it is created to pick up whether the phone is being used hands-free or via a vehicle's Bluetooth system and will not trigger the sign in those circumstances.

British road safety authorities are reportedly testing a roadside system for detecting phone use in cars.

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But they hope the measure will still act as a deterrent to motorists.

Chris Spinks, Specialist Product Sales, Westcotec "being a local company we're delighted to be able to trial this technology first within Norfolk, we've worked very closely with the road safety team at Norfolk County Council to get to this position and are glad that we're able to assist them in promoting awareness about the dangers of mobile phone use in the car".

More signs are deployed to other towns across the country from next month.

Using a mobile phone at the wheel now carries a punishment of six penalty points and a £200 fine, which was increased from three penalty points and a £100 fine past year.

Norfolk County Council's road safety team have worked with speed and warning sign specialists Westcotec on deploying the next-level signs, which are a first for United Kingdom roads.

After its launch on Holt Road, Norwich, the equipment will then move on to Cromer Road in Holt, Shipdham Road in Toftwood and Norwich Road in Attleborough.

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