New AI cameras launching across England can catch drivers on their phone and not wearing a seatbelt

New AI cameras launching across England can catch drivers on their phone and not wearing a seatbelt

WATCH: The panel reacts to a person in a dinosaur costume blocking a Ulez camera

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 23/02/2024

- 10:36

Updated: 23/02/2024

- 10:45

The new trial phase will run across England until March 2025

A trial of new artificial intelligence (AI) cameras that can automatically detect drivers who are not wearing their seatbelt or using a mobile phone is being extended across the country.

A total of 10 police forces around England will use the new kit which is mounted to a vehicle or trailer and gives authorities multiple camera angles of the driver and passengers.

Under new plans, the camera technology could be fixed to gantries for the first time to give an unobscured view of all lanes of traffic.

The cameras capture footage of passing motorists, with the images being processed using AI to analyse whether someone is on their phone or not wearing a seatbelt.

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The new AI camera technology

The technology will be rolled out across 10 police forces


Images can be passed on to the police for consideration on whether to punish drivers. People failing to wear a seatbelt can be hit with a £500 fine and receive penalty points.

Being behind the wheel with a phone in their hand could land drivers with a maximum fine of £1,000 and six penalty points.

The technology was first launched by National Highways in 2021 which issued warning letters to drivers who were not obeying road rules.

The latest trial was launched on February 19 and will be in action on roads across the country until March 2025.

The police forces taking part in the trial include Durham, Greater Manchester Police, Humberside, Staffordshire, West Mercia, Northamptonshire, Wiltshire, Norfolk, Thames Valley Police and Sussex.

Matt Staton, head of national road user safety delivery at National Highways, said: “We know that distracted driving and not wearing seatbelts were key factors in a high number of incidents that resulted in people being killed or seriously injured.

“Working with our police partners we want to reduce such dangerous driving and reduce the risks posed to both the drivers and other people.

“We believe that using technology like this will make people seriously consider their driving behaviour.

“We will continue to invest in technology that could help make sure everyone using our roads gets home safe and well.”

National Highways is now working with AECOM to extend the trial and learn how the technology could be rolled out across the country.

Safety statistics show that drivers are four times more likely to be in a crash if they are on their phones and twice as likely to die in a crash when they aren’t wearing a seatbelt.

Dr Jamie Uff, technical director at AECOM, who has been managing the deployment of the AI technology said the organisation was “really pleased” to continue working with National Highways, the police and camera suppliers.


The new AI camera technology

The new AI camera technology could be installed on gantries


He added: “Our work to date has highlighted the scale of the issue, has shown that technology can play a valuable role, and that there is much still to be understood about driver behaviour given the new insights gained.

“Expanding the deployments and integrating data processing with police systems is an important step towards this technology making a significant contribution to road safety.”

While the research is being funded by National Highways, it is up to individual police forces to enforce any motoring offences.

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