Acusensus smart traffic technology being used on UK roads
Australian-developed smart traffic technology is being rolled out across the United Kingdom to catch dangerous drivers using their mobile phones and not wearing seatbelts.
The world-first AI-enabled software and hardware was developed by Melbourne-based Acusensus, which already operates camera detection programs in New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia, as well as in several international locations.
National Highways has partnered with Acusensus in a UK first to use the company's offering to monitor driver behaviour across motorways and major A-roads in Warwickshire.
The technology is deployed through a roadside sensor van that can be relocated throughout the road network.
The van has multiple cameras capable of individually capturing every passing vehicle, even at speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour.
The AI software can instantly detect whether drivers are using handheld devices or if the driver or passengers are wearing seatbelts.
The UK government's decision to implement this technology comes at a time when figures show 420 collisions occurred on British roads in 2019 that involved a driver using a mobile phone.
Separate figures also indicate that failing to wear a seatbelt has been attributed to one in four road deaths in the UK.
“Sadly, there are still drivers who do not feel the need to wear a seatbelt, become distracted by their phones or travel too close to the vehicle in front,” National Highways road safety head Jeremy Phillips says.
“We want to see if we can change driver behaviour and therefore improve road safety for everyone.
Acusensus has already successfully deployed its camera software throughout New South Wales, which has coincided with a 22% decline in fatalities based on previous trends since the mobile phone detection program launched in 2019.
Additionally, Acusensus launched its detection program in Queensland in 2021, with the state subsequently seeing a 10% decrease in fatalities within the first six months.
Further, the company implemented its technology across Western Australia last month.
Acusensus founder and managing director Alexander Jannink says he is confident the three-month UK camera trial will produce similarly successful results.
“Since introducing our technology in New South Wales two years ago, 121 road deaths have been avoided compared to previous trends. I am so proud to now be expanding this life-saving technology on a global scale,” Jannink says.
“Distracted driver and seatbelt compliance is a universal problem with devastating impacts.
“Research indicates that mobile phone-related distraction is killing an estimated 100,000 people a year globally and injuring five million more.
In addition to cutting road trauma, Jannink says mobile camera systems positively affect drivers' long-term behaviour.
“What's been notable from the Australian experience has been the change in behaviour observed across the longer term, with improved seatbelt compliance and substantially reduced mobile phone use, even after the mobile cameras have been relocated to alternative sites,” Jannink adds.
UK offenders captured during the trial will be sent warning letters, although Warwickshire Police Inspector Jem Mountford warns drivers not to be complacent.
“During the trial the most serious breaches may be prosecuted, with others receiving warning letters, giving us the opportunity to explain how they have been caught and asking them to change their behaviour,” Inspector Mountford says.
“Next time they may not be so lucky.