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UK introduces road signs that detect phone use in cars

By midian182 · 14 replies
Jul 11, 2018
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  1. The signs, which have initially been installed in the county of Norfolk, work by scanning for phone signals as vehicles pass. A directional antenna picks up a handset's radio waves and measures the signal strength and length of activation. If phone use is detected, a “no mobiles” image made of LEDs is lit up by the roadside.

    The system can even tell if a call is being made using a hands-free kit or via Bluetooth—both legal in the UK—in which case the warning sign won’t activate.

    The system doesn’t record any video or take any pictures. It’s hoped that the warnings will deter drivers from using phones—they could decide it’s not worth the risk of being caught. However, statistics from the signs will be shared with local law enforcement, and the system could record specific number plates as a “future development.”

    Using a hand-held phone while driving in the UK can lead to 6 penalty points on a driver’s license and a £200 ($265) fine. If the case goes to court, an offender could be banned temporarily from driving and faces a maximum penalty of £1000 ($1326) or £2000 for drivers of buses and trucks.

    There are some caveats to the system. It cannot tell the difference between a driver and a passenger using a phone. It’s also unable to detect if a driver is using online services while behind the wheel; a common practice, thanks to the popularity of WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, etc.

    "Any scheme which prevents this kind of behavior is welcomed. Using a mobile phone at the wheel is one of the fatal four road offenses which can have devastating consequences if it causes a fatal or serious collision," Insp. Jonathan Chapman, of Norfolk Roads Policing unit, told the BBC.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,758   +368

    I often use my phone for GPS and music at the same time. Streaming through bluetooth to my receiver. Will it detect as illegal phone usage or be within acceptable range as it's bluetooth usage for hands-free kit essentially? Can this system detect between streaming music and other usage? Seems like it can't when they mention this line,
    So basically.... it really can't tell... if your phone is using it's radios for any reason other than bluetooth?
    JaredTheDragon and stewi0001 like this.
  3. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,058   +1,456

    Ultimately this sign is a big waste of money. I see a lot of possible issues with it besides what is stated in the article. The biggest problem is that if someone is actually looking at their phone, while driving, they won't even see the sign. XD

    Of course they probably want it to be a friendly reminder to not be an *****.
    Trillionsin and Arris like this.
  4. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,321   +826

    The data is too organic/complex to even get it accurate enough to automate this (at this point in time).

    Maybe if it can take a picture of the phone in hand with attention on the phone (which is screened by a person) would it even begin to be useful...
  5. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,665   +416

    Exactly my thoughts on it, if you are looking at your phone you won't even see this. Another badly thought out waste of money by the UK government.
    Spence1115 and stewi0001 like this.
  6. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,680   +1,928

    But many cars now have wireless capabilities used for downloading traffic information for their GPS. If an autonomous Tesla drives buy it would set off the sign
    Reehahs and stewi0001 like this.
  7. thelatestmodel

    thelatestmodel TS Addict Posts: 142   +60

    Exactly. Giant waste of money, false positives for days. Back to the drawing board...
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  8. Boilerhog146

    Boilerhog146 TS Evangelist Posts: 618   +217

    Waste of money.
    / WRONG .for the trial period maybe .but no, like photo radar , this will generate big ticket revenue.lose a few that show up to contest the violation, but most will just pay the ticket,
    I wrote parking tickets for a major Canadian city back in the 90's, some do contest,most just paid the ticket .
    it's ok to hate me ,get in line. :p
    .the guy in the tesla will see the ticket in the mail,will think for all of about 3 sec.s ,**** I was on the phone too,and just pay the ticket.prolly cost more to go and contest it. that is what the U.K. gov is betting on.
    Oh ,if you think they won't tell the difference between the various signals ,sa y from a satellite GPS or a cell phone, think again, that's what the trial period is for ,to work out the coding bugs.
    like the photo radar ,for a period ,just the flashing sign,warning,then there will be the warning ticket in the mail period, then when they got it working the way they want it,start issuing real tickets. and count the money.
    in alberta ,they have photo Radar , got that working,then came the red light cameras.got them working.this tech will be next ,if its not there already. I live on the east coast now.
    And this is not about the phone usage ,its about DISTRACTED DRIVING,,period,in Newbrunswick ,it just recently became law ,that a pet in the vehicle must be secured ,in a kennel,cage ,or harnessed and seatbelt secured so it can't move around freely.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
    mark kram likes this.
  9. thews86

    thews86 TS Booster Posts: 40   +42

    Not surprising for a country that doesn't have freedom of speech...
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  10. Hexic

    Hexic TS Evangelist Posts: 445   +273

    Leave it to GB to waste tax payers money on yet another laughable program that won't work.
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  11. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,194   +4,856

    "The system doesn’t record any video or take any pictures."

    Without surveillance they will have no proof the driver was alone and the one using the phone. Good thing this is only meant as a deterrent.
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  12. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Guru Posts: 588   +231

    One step closer to 1984
  13. Berty Boy

    Berty Boy TS Rookie

    Pointless ....
  14. Boilerhog146

    Boilerhog146 TS Evangelist Posts: 618   +217

    "And the system could record specific number plates" as a future development." "

    as stated ,during the trial period .there will be warnings shown . further developments could see a camera. added.
  15. mark kram

    mark kram TS Enthusiast Posts: 36   +9

    I agree. Like all tech, there will be refinements until a finished product arrives. The finished product will include cameras, will be able to tell the difference between a gps app and facebook and will have automated printer technology.

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