What’s the best way to tackle mobile use behind the wheel?

What's the best way to tackle mobile use behind the wheel? 30th September 2015

In the last few years, the use of mobile devices, be they phones, tablet computers or sat navs, has become more and more widespread, to the point that there is barely a driver on the British roads who won't have at least one such piece of technology on them each and every time they get behind the wheel. 

However, while these devices help make our lives easier and more convenient, their use has meant that people are far more easily distracted than they've ever been in the past. This causes problems, of course, because a distracted driver can be the cause of an accident. And as a consequence, organisations nationwide are doing more to tackle the problem and ensure that people across the country are not taking to the wheel with a mobile device to distract them from the task at hand. 

One such organisation is the Welsh police service, which has started a two week crackdown on drivers texting and using their mobile phones while they are on the road. Drivers who are caught using their phones while driving will be handed an on the spot fine of £100 as well as facing three points on their licence. 

Police are hoping that the effectiveness of last year's campaign will have filtered through and made people more aware of the dangers of using a phone while driving. In 2014, the crackdown saw some 900 people across Wales hit with fines. 

But what is truly the most effective way to make sure that drivers flouting the law are caught? One company, Thermotor, believes that the best way to tackle the issue is with a head on strategy – tech on tech. 

It is testing out a new piece of technology that it says can be placed on road signs and can spot anyone talking or texting on their phone automatically as they drive past, meaning that more offenders can be stopped from breaking the law, but through behavioural changes rather than punishment.

The device works using a special Vehicle Activated Sign (VAS) technology and detection software that can tell when someone in the car passing it is using their device. Although it cannot determine if the user is a passenger or the driver, the idea is that the warning the signs will flash up about safety and the use of a phone when driving will make drivers think twice about what they are doing. 

Although the company said that future versions of the technology could be changed to catch people who are breaking the law in order to hand out fines, the hope is that warnings will be effective enough in changing behaviours so as to not need this modification. 

Posted by Danielle Barge