Mobile phone detecting road signs being tested

Distracted driving is a significant cause of road accidents, and as we all know mobile phone usage is a major cause of distraction. Our recent survey of young drivers found that over a quarter admitted to using their phone at the wheel.

Despite tougher penalties introduced in 2017 – 6 penalty points and a £200 fine – using a mobile behind the wheel seems to be a habit that people just can’t shift.

In a bid to reduce this dangerous driving behaviour, new road sign technology is being tested which can detect mobile phone usage. The hope is that the signs will act as a further deterrent to drivers who may be tempted to us their mobile phone.

Detecting mobile phone use

The signs are designed to scan for the signal emitted when a phone call is being made, if they detect the signal the sign then shows a warning light with an image of a mobile phone with a line through it.

The road signs can distinguish between phone signal and Bluetooth signal so should only show the warning light to those actually using a handheld phone, and not those using a handsfree system to make a call.

Limitations of the phone detecting signs

Given that this is a UK first, the signs do have some limitations, such as:

  • They can’t determine whether it is the driver or passengers who are using the phone
  • They won’t record any details about the vehicles
  • They won’t issue penalties

However, it is thought that this could be a further development to the technology if initial testing is successful.

Deterring drivers from using a mobile phone

The signs which are initially being trialled in the county of Norfolk, will ultimately act as an educational tool reminding drivers of the dangers of using their phone while driving. The police force will also receive information from the signs informing them of mobile usage in the area helping them plan future campaigns.

Rules about using your mobile phone while driving

Ensuring your focus is solely on the road whilst driving is the key to safety. It’s also a good idea to make sure you are aware of the rules relating to mobile phone usage whilst driving – for example, the rules still apply if:

  • You are stationary at a set of traffic lights
  • Stopped in traffic
  • The only time it is ok to use a handheld phone is if you are safely parked or need to make an emergency 999 call and it is unsafe or impractical to stop.

Find out more about the rules around using your mobile phone while driving.


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