Acusensus Traffic Management Solutions has developed artificial intelligence software to detect unsafe drivers using their mobile phones on the road and identify those who are not wearing seat belts in the UK.
Acusensus has partnered with UK government body National Highways to use its patented solution to monitor driver behavior on Warwickshire’s motorways and major A-roads.
A roadside detection van, which can be moved around the road network, is equipped with multiple cameras capable of individually capturing each passing vehicle, even at speeds of up to 300 km/h (186 mph) .
The AI software can instantly determine if drivers are using a handheld device or if the driver or passenger is wearing a seatbelt.
UK government figures show there were 420 crashes in 2019 due to mobile phone distraction. Separate figures show that failure to wear seat belts has been attributed to one in four road fatalities in the UK.
“Unfortunately, there are still drivers who don’t feel the need to wear a seatbelt, are distracted by their phones or move too close to the vehicle in front of them. We want to see if we can change driver behavior and therefore improve road safety for everyone,” said National Highways road safety officer Jeremy Phillips.
Acusensus’ camera software has already been rolled out in NSW, seeing a 22% drop in deaths based on previous trends since the mobile phone detection program launched in 2019.
The company launched a mobile phone and seatbelt detection program in Queensland in 2021 and saw a 10% drop in deaths in the first six months, and last month turned on the detection program’s cameras cell phones and seat belts in WA.
Acusensus founder and chief executive Alexander Jannink said he was confident the three-month UK camera trial would produce equally successful results.
“Since the introduction of our technology in New South Wales two years ago, 121 road deaths have been averted compared to previous trends. The distracted driver and respect for the seat belt is a universal problem with devastating effects. Research indicates that cell phone distraction kills around 100,000 people a year worldwide and injures five million more,” Jannink said.
In addition to reducing road trauma, Jannink said moving camera systems have a positive effect on long-term driver behavior.
“What stands out from the Australian experience is the change in behavior seen over the longer term, with better seat belt compliance and significantly reduced mobile phone use, even after mobile cameras were moved to other sites,” he said.
British offenders caught on trial will be issued warning letters, although Warwickshire Police Inspector Jem Mountford has warned drivers not to be complacent.
“During the trial, the most serious breaches can be prosecuted, with others receiving warning letters, giving us the opportunity to explain how they were caught and asking them to change their behavior. Next time they might not be so lucky,” warned Mountford.
Acusensus operates camera detection programs in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, as well as several international jurisdictions.
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