AI systems aim to catch drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel in new scheme

A long-term ambition has been set out to reach a point where nobody is killed or seriously injured on the region’s roads

AI systems are to be rolled out across the West Midlands in a bid to crack down on people using their mobile phones behind the wheel.

It's part of measures to improve road safety across the region.

A long-term ambition has been set out to reach a point where nobody is killed or seriously injured on the region’s roads – known as ‘Vision Zero’.

On the road to this, an interim target has been set to reduce the numbers of people killed or seriously injured by 50 per cent by 2030.

A number of measures are now in the pipeline including the use of more AI systems to identify motorists caught on camera using their mobile phones while driving or not wearing a seatbelt.

There will also be enhancement of average speed camera enforcement, including increasing the use of speed awareness courses to educate motorists.

 Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “It’s imperative that we continue our efforts to improve safety on our roads and this strategy sets out our collective ambition to do just that.

“We’re stating here that even one life lost is one too many although we also recognise that this is a challenging task hence why we’re setting incremental targets to guide us along the way.

M5 Credit: Traffic England

"Key to this is not only targeting issues as they arise, but also designing our roads and networks to reduce risk from the outset.

"That’s why we’re developing new safe cycle routes, boosting public transport priority arrangements and ensuring safer junctions.

“Safer roads relieve pressure on our emergency services, enhance our environment and foster wellbeing.

“With this strategy as the foundation, we now need to translate ambition into tangible action - taking further steps to reduce speeding and dangerous driving.

"Together, we can and will make our roads safer for all users whether they’re in a car or lorry, on a bike or on foot.”

The strategy has been issued following a series of fatalities and incidents of violent and anti-social driving.

This has led to a community-led campaign in high-risk locations and widespread activity by West Midlands Police, supported by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and authorities to crack down on dangerous driving.

The new strategy updates the previous 2019 strategy - since that launch there has been a 16% reduction in serious or fatal collisions, which as well as preserving life and limb has reduced the annual cost to society by £25 million.

Other measures in the pipeline include reductions in vehicle speeds, including through lower posted speed limits and further rollout of the "Fasten Your Future campaign" which targeted younger drivers in Birmingham who were found less likely to wear a seatbelt.

Simon Foster, Police and Crime Commissioner and chair of the Road Safety Strategic Group, said: “Preventing, tackling and reducing crime and ASB and the number of people tragically and avoidably killed and seriously injured on our roads is a top priority.

“The Refreshed Regional Road Safety Strategy 2023-2030, is part of the collaborative commitment of partners to ensure safety on our roads for everyone, including pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle users.

"Safety on our roads is everyone’s responsibility.

“I am holding West Midlands Police to account, to prevent, tackle and reduce crime and anti-social behaviour on our roads. 

"The force has agreed to crackdown on rule breakers on our roads, set up two new police teams to bring dangerous drivers to justice and make it easier for people to report dangerous driving.

"Keeping people safe on our roads is a top priority.”