New camera system helping Devon and Cornwall Police catch drivers using mobiles
Watch Kathy Wardle's report
A new camera system which uses AI to catch drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel is being trialled by Devon and Cornwall Police.
The technology, which can also detect whether drivers are wearing a seatbelt, is being rolled out across the two counties over the next two months.
The 'Acusensus' system is housed in a police van equipped with multiple cameras which record footage of passing motorists.
Those images are processed using artificial intelligence to assess if drivers were using a handheld mobile phone, or if drivers and passengers were without a seat belt. The system can also tell the speed a vehicle was travelling at.
Police say any images in which a potential offence is detected are then reviewed by officers, before the driver will either be sent a warning letter or a notice of intended prosecution.
Supt Adrian Leisk, Strategic Roads Policing lead for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Using a mobile phone while driving is both dangerous and illegal.
"It puts the lives of the driver, passengers and other road users at risk – and that is unacceptable.
“Despite repeated messaging and even a change in the law which makes any contact with a mobile phone while driving illegal, sadly there are still some people who continue to ignore the rules.
“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."
Supt Leisk also warned that the penalties for these offences can be very serious.
He said: “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 licence."
The trial is being funded by the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership and is overseen by Devon and Cornwall Police.
The force is also using officers in unmarked HGVs to carry out surveillance on some of the region's busiest roads.