One of Devon and Cornwall’s busiest roads has been the testing ground for a new generation of road safety cameras.

The state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) technology has detected almost 300 drivers using mobile phones or not wearing seatbelts in just the first three days of being in operation.

In total, the new camera detected 117 mobile phone and 180 seat belt offences.

Implemented by road safety tech firm Acusensus – in partnership with Vision Zero South West – it utilises AI to identify mobile phone and seatbelt offences, and it is the first time this system has been used in the UK.

Vision Zero is a group of organisations across Devon and Cornwall that are aiming to cut the number of deaths and serious injuries in the region to zero.

The camera is currently located on the A30 near Launceston.

All images are reviewed by a human before being used as a part of a conviction.

Last year, Vision Zero South West conducted a 15-day trial of a larger, vehicle-based system from Acusensus which detected 590 seatbelt and 45 mobile phone offences across various roads in both Devon and Cornwall.

However, the new free-standing system can be easily moved and can be deployed at various locations across Devon and Cornwall.

The aim is to expand the project and provide constant monitoring of some of the region’s most used roads.

Adrian Leisk, Head of Road Safety for Devon & Cornwall Police, said: “We are employing this new technology to send a clear message to anyone who continues to use their phone behind the wheel – you will get caught.

“Whether it’s by the Acusensus cameras, a passing officer or on video footage submitted through Op Snap, the result will be the same and you will end up with a hefty fine and six penalty points – which could be enough to cost some drivers their license and livelihood.

“It’s just not worth it. Before you start your journey, put your phone away in the glove box or somewhere you cannot reach it so the temptation is not there. If it’s an emergency, make sure you pull in and stop the car before making that call.”

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and chairman of the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership, commented: “Last year 48 people were killed and 738 were seriously injured on Devon and Cornwall’s roads – and that is why road safety is one of four priorities in my Police and Crime Plan.

“We know distracted driving is a common cause of collisions, which is exactly why it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving.

“We also know that wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of death for drivers in a road collision by around 50% – yet almost a third of the people who died in UK car collisions in 2021 were not wearing a seat belt, the highest level recorded since recent records began.

“By embracing new technology such as the Acusensus ‘Heads Up’ system, we have the opportunity to improve compliance with these laws and consequently make our roads safer for everyone.”

What do you make of the new camera system? Should it be introduced nationwide? Leave your comments below.


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